The number of water pollution incidents caused by NI farms fell to its lowest level on record last year, newly published figures confirm.

Data from NI Environment Agency (NIEA) shows there were 194 cases where a farm was deemed to be the source of a water pollution incident during 2022.

That is down from 253 cases the year previous and the lowest annual total in the dataset which runs back to 2005.

Overall, farming accounted for 29% of all confirmed water pollution incidents in NI during 2022, which is the same percentage as the year previous. The figure stood at 36% in 2019. Across all sources of water pollution, the number of incidents that occurred in NI fell by 19% last year to a record low of 676 cases. Of these, 1.3% were deemed high severity, 12% medium severity and 87% were low severity.

However, the new NIEA figures indicate that phosphorus levels in waterways remain a key area of concern. Average phosphorus levels in NI rivers edged up slightly from 0.071mg/litre in 2021 to 0.073 mg/litre last year.

The latest figure is still behind the peak in 2005 of 0.083mg/litre, but well ahead of 2012 when an annual average of 0.047 mg/litre was recorded.