Population growth, urbanisation, agricultural intensification and climate change all impact the quality and security of water in the UK. Whilst the UK has a healthy amount of rainfall, these factors still place substantial strain on UK water supplies and have the potential to impact national finances, natural ecosystems and public health.
Between January 2012 and March 2013 a public dialogue was commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Environment Agency (EA), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) and was supported by Sciencewise. The public dialogue project explored public perceptions of water quality and sustainability whilst also testing ways of enhancing community participation in national water policy.
The process involved a range of public dialogue activities across 13 pilot catchment areas. These activities included public workshops, site visits and online engagement. Over 500 members of the public from around the UK were involved. The process was delivered by Dialogue By Design and was independently evaluated by Cascade Consulting.
The project informed Defra and EA’s new national policy framework to manage water quality and water resources.