The Environment Agency has released its annual reporting for 2020 on the environmental performance of the nine water and sewerage companies in England, including the Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA).
Our CEO Dr Laurence Couldrick took part in an interview with BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight today to discuss river health and water pollution across the Westcountry.
He spoke about how in the South West, only one in every five rivers support a healthy ecology saying “the bottom line is our rivers are just too polluted”.
There are lots of pollutants, but the biggest contributors are agricultural slurries and human sewage.
The demand to produce cheap food has meant farmers don’t always have the margins to invest in slurry management.
And incorrectly putting wet wipes, fats, oils and greases down our toilets and sinks is an added burden the water system can’t cope with.
More robust regulation used to counter pollution but the amount of officers has reduced due to a halving by government over the last decade of the budget available.
Recent increases in the Environment Agency funding should help, but it doesn’t restore enforcement to pre-2008 levels so these forms of pollution will continue.
Laurence added: “Ultimately, both water companies and farmers will need to do more to stop the pollution of our environment, but we have to play out part too.
At the Trust, we work with the water company and farmers to help manage these risks as well as communities to reduce the pressure on the system.”
It is our aim to nurture an understanding of the state of local rivers and the importance they play in everyday life.
Referring to the EA’s report, the overarching river movement body The Rivers Trust CEO Mark Lloyd said: “We need to see stronger regulation in this and other sectors. Every company should know that they will not get away with cost-cutting that results in pollution.”
You can help monitor your local river by volunteering as a citizen scientist with our #WestcountryCSI project. Find out more at: wrt.org.uk/project/become-a-citizen-scientist/