Poole Harbour nitrogen offsetting project

We are using catchment management to offset nitrate contained in the effluent discharged from Dorchester’s water recycling centre (sewage treatment works).

The aim is to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering Poole Harbour by 40 tonnes of nitrogen per year by 2020.

Agriculture still contributes the majority of nitrate to Poole Harbour (66%), when compared to Wessex Water’s Water Recycling Centres (12%). So by working with catchment farmers Wessex Water has been able to provide investment in agricultural measures that reduce nitrate leaching and provide wider environmental benefits such as biodiversity improvements. The alternative, installing nitrate removal plants at WRCs, only deals with nitrate, doesn’t deliver wider environmental benefits and releases significant quantities of carbon into the environment.

We work with the farmers in a targeted area of the Poole Harbour catchment to:

  • identify and raise awareness of water quality issues
  • share the results of water, soil, crop and manure testing that we have carried out for them
  • provide advice and information on ways to improve the efficient use of key inputs
  • compensate the farmer (where appropriate) for adopting alternative practices. An example of this is encouraging farmers to grow cover crops to reduce leaching whilst locking up nutrients that can be utilised by the subsequent crop.

Within the Poole Harbour catchment, there are groundwater safeguard zones where we also work with farmers to protect drinking water quality.

For more information about our nitrogen offsetting project please email Adrian Moore, senior catchment adviser (Poole Harbour).

View more about the Poole Harbour catchment initiative, a stakeholder engagement process to identify the key issues and solutions in the catchment.

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