We must ‘turn the tide on England’s dirty rivers’
Urgent action is needed after latest research revealed that every single river in England was declared dirty for failing to meet quality tests for pollution.
Midlands green expert Ron Fox was commenting about measurements taken last year and published recently by the Environment Agency which showed English waters were among some of the worst in Europe with not a single river nor lake ‘in good health’ due to high levels of chemical pollution.
With a European average of 40 per cent of surface waters considered good, Scottish rivers and lakes scored 65.7 per cent, Welsh waterways 46 per cent, Northern Ireland 31.3 per cent and England 16 per cent.
“The problem is that chemicals, sewage, manure and plastic are polluting our rivers,” said Ron. “Also weeds are choking them and climate change plus farmers and water companies taking too much water out are causing the rivers to dry out.
“We need to tackle immediately the scale of sewage discharges and the amount of agricultural and industrial chemicals entering our water system so we can turn our rivers, streams and lakes back into thriving places for wildlife and for people to enjoy.”
Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park, said that to achieve the overall good designation, rivers had to meet both good ecological and chemical standards.
The Environment Agency assessed 4,600 rivers, lakes and other waterways and none was rated as good on both standards. A total of 3,740 waterways achieved moderate on both classifications while 793 were judged poor and 137 rated bad.
The standard of tests used this time was much tougher compared to when the last figures were produced in 2016. After that data the Government promised that by 2027 75% of English rivers would be rated good, but Ron said this target was looking increasingly unlikely. However, the Government insists it’s still committed to that goal.
He said pollution was having a huge impact on river quality. To solve this problem everyone needed to improve how they use their water.
Agriculture must cut back on the amounts of nitrates and phosphates going into the waterways which were killing off fish and marine wildlife.
They and the water companies must reduce the amount of water they were abstracting from water courses which, together with climate change, was turning some rivers into stream and some streams into puddles.
The water companies also had to stop discharging raw sewage directly into river as must some industries flushing away chemicals.
The Government had to find increased funding and investment which had led to cuts to Environment Agency monitoring and punishing wrongdoers.
Finally, the public must stop flushing make-up and hygiene items down the toilet which leads to pollution and blockages in sewage systems.
Ron concluded: “Healthy waters are essential for people and nature to survive, and for businesses to thrive. This problem affects our crops, our wildlife, the nature sites we love to visit and our whole way of life and we must all act now.
For more information about green energy and pollution problems call Ron on 0845 474 6641.