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The law in respect of water can be broadly categorised into the water industry and water resources, including water quality.

Water industry law focusses on the regulation of water and sewerage undertakers. Water and sewerage undertakers are the companies which provide water and sewerage services. The areas covered by some water and sewerage undertakers straddle the border between England and Wales. The Welsh Ministers have functions in relation to any undertaker whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales.

Water resources law covers sources of water supply. These may be inland waters or underground strata.  The law covers the conservation, collection, preparation, use and disposal of these resources, and the protection of their quality.

The European Union Water Framework Directive sets out a framework for protecting and improving the water environment. EU law also covers drinking water standards, the collection and treatment of urban waste water, protecting water from being polluted by nitrates used in agriculture and the quality of bathing water. 

This section also deals with the law on water abstraction, which is the process of removing water from natural sources such as waters and lakes.


Key water legislation
List of key primary and subordinate legislation



Published on
Last updated
12 October 2021