The following section describes the water quality of study area of the Thames Estuary. Water quality is important benthic infauna and hence the feeding resource for waterfowl can be impacted as a consequence of poor water quality. Water quality data is predominantly collected by the Environment Agency in response to legislative requirements. Data is then compared against environmental quality standards (EQS), which are designed to protect the environment and human health. In the Thames estuary study area there are a number of applicable EC Directives which trigger a requirement for monitoring. These Directives include::
- EC Bathing Waters Directive
- EC Shellfish Waters Directive
- EC Shellfish Hygiene Directive
- EC Dangerous Substances Directive
The water quality data for the Thames Estuary has therefore been largely derived from monitoring carried out by the Environment Agency. The exception is the information provided by the Food Standards Agency for data collected under the Shellfish Hygiene Directive.