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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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Moving towards sustainable water quality management in agriculture

Policy reforms to improve the economic efficiency and environmental effectiveness of the current policy mix to lower agricultural pressure on water systems are important steps toward the sustainable management of water quality in agriculture. Where there are policy and market failures to address water pollution in agriculture, it can also help to seek and introduce innovative policy tools and market approaches to overcome these failures. A strategy toward the sustainable management of water quality in agriculture, that seeks to lower budgetary expenditure of abatement programmes and reduces the external costs of agricultural pollution, while building on recent policy reforms in OECD countries should consider the following: enforce compliance with existing water quality regulations and standards; remove perverse support in agriculture to lower pressure on water systems; take into account the Polluter-Pays-Principle to reduce agricultural water pollution; set realistic water quality targets and standards for agriculture; improve the spatial targeting of policies to areas where water pollution is most acute; assess the cost effectiveness of different policy options to address water quality in agriculture; take a holistic approach to agricultural pollution policies; and establish information systems to support farmers, water managers and policy makers.

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