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Water Quality and Agriculture

Meeting the Policy Challenge

image of Water Quality and Agriculture

Improving water quality is consistently ranked as a top environmental concern in OECD public opinion surveys. The key challenges for policy makers in addressing water quality issues in agriculture are to reduce water pollution while encourage benefits, such as maintaining aquatic life. This book examines linking policies, farm management and water quality. It looks at recent trends and prospects for water pollution from agriculture and the implications of climate change. It assesses the costs and benefits of agriculture's impact on water systems, and presents a series of case studies. Finally the report provides a set of recommendations for countries for meeting the challenge of improving agricultural water quality.

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Agriculture and water quality

Sources, trends, outlook and monitoring

The impact of agriculture on water quality is either stable or deteriorating, with few cases where significant improvements are reported across OECD from the mid-2000s to 2010. While the current situation varies within and across OECD countries, agriculture is often the main source of water pollution. Achieving further reductions is a challenge for policy makers, especially as a major part of agricultural water pollution is from diffuse sources. The outlook over the next ten years for agriculture and water quality suggests that the growth and intensification of agricultural production could further heighten regional pressures on water systems in some countries. But whatever the projections hold for the future, the task of achieving water quality objectives in agriculture will become more difficult in the coming years as a result of climate change, although this is a poorly understood and researched aspect of climate change science to date.

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