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Harmonised Monitoring Scheme

This page is no longer updated. The information presented here formed part of our previous areas of research. This has included research carried out on behalf of our research partners, commerical contracts and also the Scottish Goverment's Strategic research programme during the period 2011 - 2016.

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Map of Scotland showing average annual flowUnder the Harmonised Monitoring Scheme (an international monitoring strategy examining river-borne inputs to seas), SEPA monitors water quality in 56 rivers across Scotland. These rivers have been monitored since the mid-1970s and provide an invaluable record of environmental change in Scotland.

Each river is sampled as close to the tidal limit as possible and tested for a range of natural and synthetic substances. Water temperature and flow are also recorded and used to estimate fluxes of materials from the rivers to the sea.

The trends from the monitoring show:

  • Climate change is having an effect on Scottish rivers, with water temperature and river flow increasing in some places.
  • Improvements in water quality have been delivered through environmental regulation, cleaner technologies, improved sewage treatment and changes in agricultural practise.

Under this joint initiative between SEPA and The James Hutton Institute, a water quality atlas for Scottish rivers has been produced.  


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.