Our charity is supporting demands for the Government to take urgent action following today’s (13 January) release of a damning water quality report.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s Water Quality in Rivers review identifies a raft of failings across the public and private sectors regarding the ineffectual protection of rivers in England.

It warns that river pollution has become dangerously institutionalised and normalised by the water industry, the agricultural sector and public works including roads and development.

Our CEO Dr Laurence Couldrick said: “The decimation of our rivers cannot go on and it’s time our government stepped up and addressed the issue.

“The report’s detailed analysis and strong recommendations bolster what those working to restore and protect our freshwater environments already know – the health of rivers across the UK requires urgent care and improvement for all species who rely on, and benefit from, them.”

The Committee is calling for a step change in regulatory action, water company investment, and cross-catchment collaboration to restore rivers to good ecological health, protect biodiversity and adapt to a changing climate, with the report identifying the need for proactive education, citizen engagement, stronger regulations, greater enforcement, and better government funding for investigations.

Dr Couldrick added: “During 2021, it was clear that society had woken up to the crisis our rivers are suffering.

“This is reflected in the growing numbers of citizen science volunteers joining our leading Westcountry CSI river monitoring scheme, which has been instrumental to the development of a national citizen science Catchment Monitoring Cooperative.

“Our volunteers help us to collate a wealth of data on our local rivers to inform potential environmental interventions, but the wellbeing of our waterways cannot solely rely on the goodwill of individuals, grassroot groups and charities.

“Given the revelations recently about the Environment Agency not having the necessary funding to investigate, let alone prosecute, low-level pollution incidents, I welcome the report’s strong recommendation for assertive regulation and enforcement.”

Westcountry Rivers Trust echoes The Rivers Trust’s ask for joined-up governmental thinking, collaborative working across public and private sectors and citizen involvement to address widespread pollution and the clean-up of shared waterways for today and future generations.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “I hope this marks the start of Government regulatory and polluter action to improve the state of our rivers for all to enjoy.”

Read the full report published at 00:01 13/01/2022 on https://committees.parliament.uk/work/891/water-quality-in-rivers/

The Rivers Trust is made up of conservation experts with a wealth of data and expertise at their fingertips. Through the network of more than 60 local Trusts in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and with over 350 dedicated specialists including 60+ farm advisers, the national body works in partnership at a catchment scale to make their shared vision of wild, healthy, natural rivers, valued by all a reality.