17th January 2022

Impacts of Diffuse Coastal Pollution

Millie Smith

What is Diffuse Pollution?


Diffuse pollution is pollution from multiple, often unidentified sources. Sources of diffuse pollution are usually minor in isolation. However, together they can be very damaging to our environment, due to the potential release of pollutants. Diffuse coastal pollution may occur as a direct result of urban, marine and agricultural pollution sources, frequently driven by rainfall and land management.

Agricultural run-off when pesticides and chemicals are subsequently lost from farming land into rivers, streams and ponds contribute to diffuse coastal pollution. As with urban areas, as a consequence of flooding from sewers, poorly plumbed drainage systems and untreated wastewater. All of which can ultimately end up on our coastlines.

What are the Impacts of Diffuse Coastal Pollution?


Diffuse pollution causes significant damage to our coastal environment; the main source of water quality degradation worldwide is diffuse pollution. Half of the world’s population suffer from polluted water, freshwater diversity has declined by 81% and 500 marine locations are now dead zones. All these issues are significant effects of diffuse coastal pollution, the ripple effect is global.  Impacts of diffuse pollution are disturbing. They include eutrophication, loss of biodiversity, human health, and adverse effects to the food chain.  

Consequently, our coastlines are at risk from diffuse pollution sources that can affect the water quality and pollute our coastal areas with a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

As an island nation, Great Britain has a coastline of almost 20,000 miles (including the islands). The vast majority of the population also live within 100 miles of the coastline so unfortunately, diffuse coastal pollution is likely to affect us all in some way or another. This emphasises that more needs to be done. Diffuse pollution is a cumulative problem, yet it’s not being spoken about it enough. Geovation is going to change that. We must find sustainable solution.  


What are Geovation doing to help solve this issue?


Geovation has launched a challenge with the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) to find a sustainable solution to tackle diffuse coastal pollution, with a prize of up to £5,000 for the winners!

The challenge aims to address the important issue of diffuse pollution on our coastlines and look at sustainable solutions of how we can improve issues contributing to diffuse coastal pollution. These include ways to enhance water quality, efficiencies and sustainability from agriculture to the water and sewage infrastructure.


Geovation Coastal Pollution Challenge

Diffuse Coastal Pollution Challenge


The Diffuse Coastal Pollution Challenge with UKHO is currently open for applicants to apply, until 6 March 2022. Applicants must be a UK registered Ltd company or UK resident over 18 years old and want to make a positive impact.

This is a unique opportunity to make a difference. Applicants will have access to data from Ordnance Survey, UK Hydrographic Office, the Met Office and the British Geological Survey and winners will receive up to £5,000.

Carly Morris, Head of Geovation, said: “The coastal challenge is a great way to inspire and drive collaboration using geospatial, maritime and meteorological data so that innovators, with the support from our Geovation community, can devise sustainable solutions in order to tackle critical environmental issues.

“The environmental impact of diffuse pollution is ever more apparent in the UK and we hope that through the challenge we can get closer to finding sustainable solutions that can deliver change and make a positive impact on the future of our coasts.”

Get Involved in the Challenge


If you want to make a positive impact on an important issue, sign up to the challenge today. Applicants must first sign to the Challenge up here to get access to the data, then once you’ve got a potential solution submit your application here.

Want to find out more about the Challenge and application process? Visit our Diffuse Coastal Pollution page here.