WARMER and wetter winters could lower the quality of our rivers, warn scientists.

A Lancaster University-led team of researchers has begun work on a project to help under-stand nutrient run-off from agricultural land and work out how it affects rivers.

Prof Phil Haygarth, who is leading the team, said if winters continued to be warmer and wetter, rainfall could increase pollution from farm land.

Mr Haygarth, of the Lancaster Environment Centre, said: “If future climate trends suggest more frequent, more extreme rainfall, run-off could increase, unless we plan land management to account for this.”

Researchers for the three year project said nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen were essential to plant and animal growth,but too many cause excessive growth and algal blooms in rivers and lakes.

These required costly remediation by water supply companies.