SOAKED UP: Why are river water abstraction rules so lax for big business?
34 Backers raised €1108 of €2640

Lax State control over large volumes of water abstracted from our rivers, lakes and groundwater by private companies is putting pressure on nature and local water supplies for communities.

While laws in 2023 brought in a new licensing system, conservation experts told us that many big businesses such as water bottling companies, agri-food producers and quarries can skirt around this system as thresholds to register are set artificially high.

Our investigation will identify the companies with the largest demands for water and find out if they had an influence on watering down the current rules.


We will send Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to every local authority to piece together the limited data available currently and pinpoint water hungry companies and to what extent councils keep an eye on their abstraction.

We will also trawl through lobbying records and use FOI requests to find out which companies and industries pushed back hardest against stronger abstraction rules.

We will also speak to water conservation experts about the new rules, why they are not fit for purpose and the impact of excessive abstraction on our waterways.

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You can contact us at and find out how we work here. Our investigations are sourced from and crowdfunded by the public.

34 Backers raised €1108 of €2640
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