environment agency

Time’s up for the mismanagement of the UK’s most precious resource – our rivers and coastal waters

By |2023-03-02T13:58:40+00:00March 2nd, 2023|

For years, the UK’s management of its rivers and coastal waters has been deteriorating at a greater pace than we have seen since the Industrial Revolution and has never been fit for purpose. With the pace of deterioration of our water quality accelerating at a truly alarming pace, we need an urgent, coordinated and comprehensive national review, driving prompt action including law changes to force improvements by our water companies, business and agriculture.

In this new series, Save the Planet lays down its manifesto for change – a “carrot and stick” approach of strengthening regulations with punitive penalties for failure, yet actively promoting and rewarding sustainable initiatives for a better future.

There are several pragmatic and effective measures that the UK could take to fix the high levels of contamination and pollution of its rivers and inland coastal waters. These include:

Strengthening regulations: To reduce pollution levels in rivers and inland coastal waters, the UK government must strengthen existing regulations or enact new ones. Setting even stricter limits on pollutant discharge from industrial and agricultural activities, for example.

Increasing monitoring: The government must conduct more extensive monitoring of water quality in rivers and inland coastal waters in order to identify pollution hotspots and take action to address them, including the use of new technologies such as sensors to monitor water quality in real time.

Promoting sustainable agriculture: Agricultural activities are a major source of pollution in rivers and inland coastal waters. The government should increase its promotion of sustainable agriculture practices that reduce fertiliser and pesticide use, as well as encourage farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

Encouraging public participation: The government must encourage the public to participate in efforts to reduce pollution in rivers and inland coastal waters. This will include campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to report pollution incidents.

Investing in infrastructure: To improve the quality of water in rivers and inland coastal waters, the government must expand infrastructure such as water treatment plants. This will include upgrading existing infrastructure or constructing new facilities in underserved areas.

Collaborating with stakeholders: The government must collaborate with stakeholders such as industry, agriculture, and environmental groups to develop solutions to reduce pollution in rivers and inland coastal waters – working together to develop and implement best practices for reducing pollution.

Overall, a comprehensive approach that combines legislative measures, increased monitoring, sustainable practices, public participation, infrastructure investments, and stakeholder collaboration is needed to fix the high levels of contamination and pollution in Britain’s rivers and inland coastal waters.

Welsh Coastal Areas Named Among UK’s Most Polluted Due to Sewage Contamination

By |2023-02-25T14:12:36+00:00February 25th, 2023|

Two Welsh coastal areas have been identified as some of the most highly-polluted spots in the UK due to sewage contamination.

The latest figures illustrate the dismal state of many bodies of water due to contamination from water firms.

Two north Welsh locations have made it into the top ten – Rhyl and Morfa Nefyn – while the Menai Strait has also secured a spot in the top twenty. The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales have revealed that sewage was pumped into waterways for 3.4 million hours in only one year, which can be translated to 388 years.

This issue has been brought to light by highlighting that the River Severn, which divides England and Wales, was suffering from severe pollution due to the 28,000 hours of sewage pumped into it by Severn Trent Water over 2,656 times.

Other rivers listed in the top 20 include River Teifi, River Usk, River Wye, River Tawe and and River Taf. Gwent river pollution by sewage

Welsh Water, also known as Dŵr Cymru, said it was “unsurprising” that Wales had greater numbers of spills than other countries, going on to blame storm overflows and rainfall.

“Welsh Water has monitors on 99% of our storm overflows, more than any other water company, and given Wales also receives more rainfall than England this results in these storm overflows operating more often.

“It is therefore unsurprising that we currently record larger numbers of spills than others.”

Storm overflows act as safety valves, releasing extra sewage into rivers, lakes or the ocean when weather conditions cause excess rainfall. This stops properties from becoming flooded and saves them from sewage backing up into their streets and homes during extreme weather events.

The water company concluded to state that it was continuing to “protect the environment” and “assess the impact of storm overflows” to work to improve the problem.

“We are investing over £900m to protect the environment between 2020 and 2025. With 44% of Welsh rivers achieving good ecological status, compared to 16% in England, we are playing our part by investing to prevent any water body in Wales failing good ecological status by 2030 as a result of our wastewater treatment works.”

Undertones singer and fisherman Feargal Sharkey had something to say about the figures outlined on ‘Top of the Poops’ – tweeting:“What on earth is going on in Wales, Welsh Water with an utterly despicable record of six of the most polluted rivers. Get a grip.”

In a statement, Natural Resources Wales explained it was “concerned about the impact of storm discharges on our water quality”, and added a taskforce has since been set up to help reduce the impact.

“The taskforce brings together Welsh Government, NRW, Ofwat, Dŵr Cymru and Hafren Dyfrdwy, with independent advice from Afonydd Cymru and the Consumer Council for Water. Collaboratively, the Taskforce has published a series of action plans to gather greater evidence on the impact of storm overflows on our rivers and the sea to reduce the impacts they cause, to improve regulation and to educate the public on sewer misuse.”

It added that water companies have a “responsibility to the environment” and need to start taking the issue “seriously”: “We will continue to challenge the water companies to make sure storm overflows are properly controlled. We will investigate any cases of non-compliance and where appropriate take the required enforcement action.”