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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Our filthy waterways

The Guardian reports on the Rivers Trust annual report which reveals that the rivers of Britain and Ireland are in a desperate state from the impact of pollution, with not a single waterway in England or Northern Ireland listed as being in good overall health.

Their State of Our Rivers report reveals that the impact of pollution from treated and untreated sewage and agricultural and industrial runoff means rivers are in a worse condition than ever:

More than half – 54% – of rivers in England failed to pass chemical and ecological tests because of pollution from water industry releases of treated and untreated sewage, based on data from the EU-derived water framework directive (WFD) in 2022.

Agricultural pollution contributes to 62% of waterways in England failing to meet good standards for chemical and biological pollution. Urban runoff from transport contributes to 26% of rivers not achieving good overall status.

The report shows none of England’s rivers are in good chemical health, which means the concentrations of toxic chemicals are higher than the safe limit in every river. Failing to pass chemical tests means no river in England is considered to be in good overall health.

Just 15% of rivers pass biological markers for good ecological health. Ecological health looks at what is living in the river, and how modified it is. The presence, absence and abundance of species is a good indication of its general health.

Similarly, no stretch of river in Northern Ireland is in good overall health.

Wales fares no better:

The latest round of WFD assessments in 2021 revealed that 44% of Wales’s river stretches achieved at least good overall status. But Afonydd Cymru (Wales’s version of the Rivers Trust) has concerns about the way in which assessments for WFD are being carried out in Wales. It believes differences in waterbody status are more a reflection of differences in monitoring and reporting carried out by Natural Resources Wales, as opposed to any tangible environmental improvement.

Time for government action.
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