2009 saw the launch of the Downs & Harbours Clean Water Partnership, a forward-thinking initiative formed by Portsmouth Water, Natural England and the Environment Agency. The unique Partnership has been set up to tackle diffuse water pollution issues affecting the quality of ground, surface and coastal waters in West Sussex and East Hampshire.
The Partnership is focused on reducing the amount of polluting nutrients, particularly nitrate, currently entering the water environment. The project aims to:
  • protect and improve the water quality for all by safeguarding groundwater sources used for public water supply;

  • reduce pressures on the ecology of local rivers such as the Meon, Wallington, Ems and both River Lavants; and

  • reduce algal growth in the Portsmouth, Chichester, Langstone Harbours & River Hamble estuary

Elsewhere, the Environment Agency is already working closely with water companies to reduce the levels of nutrients released from sewage treatment works, allowing the Partnership to focus its efforts on the issues of diffuse water pollution from agriculture and other land-based businesses.

Supporting Agriculture and other land users

The Partnership works closely with agriculture by promoting a voluntary uptake of best management practices, so to reduce the impact of their activities on land and water environments. The emphasis is placed on a catchment-sensitive farming approach to reduce the loss of soil, nutrients and pesticides.

To help achieve this goal, the Partnership offers FREE and confidential services and support for farmers and other landowners. These services include nutrient/manure/soil management plans as well as focussed workshops, 1:1 consultations and farm demonstrations of best management practices. The Partnership can also signpost applicants to potential sources of grant funding, such as the Capital Grant Scheme, where appropriate. All services can be tailored to the individual farm's needs and developed alongside the farm's existing agronomist(s). 

Some services, including specialist 1:1 visits, are also available to equestrian enterprises, which may be contributing a high level of nutrients to groundwater, rivers and harbours. 

The Partnership is keen to meet landowners and farmers in the project area, particularly if their land is near any rivers, lakes or on land within groundwater protection zones. If you are a landowner and would like to see whether you are eligible for any of the services, please contact the Project Manager.


On this website you can find out all about our work to help conserve and enhance this special area. If there is information that you cannot find, would like to see added to the website or if you would like to raise an issue, Please contact us or complete the enquiry form below.

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