Fences reduce water pollution

water pollution

Fences keep livestock from contaminating water courses

Simply fencing off streams and drainage ditches so farm animals can’t deposit manure in and around them could cut levels of faecal pollution dramatically, according to scientists. This would protect the health of people exposed to river water and help Britain comply with EU rules on water quality.

The researchers created a model of the various factors that lead to faecal pollution — and the harmful bacteria it contains — in rivers. They then used the model to work out how effective different methods aimed at cutting faecal pollution would be, using the Humber river basin as a case study.

Fencing off streams came out ahead by a big margin — the model suggests that by the time water flows out of a region of intensive dairy farming, its E. coli concentrations would be 58.59 per cent lower with fenced streams than without. As well as keeping animals away, the fences encourage the development of an overgrown riverbank zone which can help filter out faecal matter that’s washed off fields.

This is just one of several possible ways to address the problem. ‘But animals having direct access to the water seems to be one of the major risks,’ says Danyel Hampson, a PhD student at the University of East Anglia and lead author of the paper, published in Water Research. ‘The simple solution of fencing off cattle from rivers is probably one of the most effective ways farmers have of reducing faecal matter contaminating watercourses. From the farmer’s point of view, it is a solution that they can get on and do.’

Source: Environmental News Network

Widespread contamination of our water resources in South Africa is disturbing.  There are cases where water pollution could be prevented- such as the simple expedient of keeping livestock away from rivers and water courses (coming from an agricultural background, I also know that livestock, especially cattle, are prone getting stuck in mud so fences do double duty).  Unfortunately, fences don’t always prevent contamination of our water supplies; while on duty as Water Control Officer (White River), I experienced the very frustrating behaviour of certain town residents who continued to dump refuse into the canal systems that supply drinking water (a high security fence being but a minor obstacle- they simply hurled their trash over the top!).  If the taps ran dry perhaps people would treat water with a little more respect.

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