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.

Arun waters amongst the most E. Coli-infested in the UK

By |2023-02-28T17:49:18+00:00February 28th, 2023|

According to research, the coastal waters in and surrounding Arun District are among the most E. coli-infested in the UK, with Chichester having some of the worst cases.

The numbers, gathered by SEO experts Reboot Online, collate and compare data on water quality around the UK to provide residents with a thorough understanding of the condition of our coastal waters.

West Wittering coastal water contaminated by e.coli

West Wittering coastal water contaminated by e.coli

They demonstrate that Chichester has suffered more than other areas since E. coli rates there have reportedly climbed by 568.56%. Rates of intestinal enterococci, a sign of potential faecal matter contamination of water bodies, increased by a comparable amount: 498.18%.

With a score of 97 out of 100, Chichester was one of the regions with the worst water quality degradation. Nonetheless, the numbers show that Chichester has not fared as poorly as some other regions of the country, with a “relatively modest” 25,705 hours of sewage discharge documented, despite widespread worries about sewage discharges.

In most ways, Arun District performed marginally better than Chichester itself, though not significantly. The scenario is somewhat mild compared to what Dorset residents had to deal with, when approximately 32,900 hours’ worth of sewage was discharged over the course of the past year. Even so, the situation regarding the deterioration of Arun’s water quality is significantly less rosy with some of the UK’s most degraded and E. coli-infested coastal waterways.

Water quality in the area received a score of 85.05 out of 100, and the proportion of E. coli increased by 85.83 over the previous year. The percentage of intestinal enterococci has also significantly increased during the past year, rising to 250.52%.

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.”

English Water Companies Oversaw Shocking Levels of Pollution in 2022

By |2023-02-20T17:10:40+00:00February 20th, 2023|

According to the UK government’s Environmental Performance Report for 2021, English water companies oversaw shocking levels of pollution in a year where there were 1,677 sewerage incidents, where untreated effluent was released into rivers and coastal waters.

UK effluent discharge into rivers by national water companies

Effluent discharge into a river in the UKThere are nine water and sewerage companies operating in England that provide clean drinking water and waste water services, and the government regulates and works in partnership with them to ensure they meet environmental standards. However, there have been instances of water companies deliberately releasing sewage into rivers and inland waters during heavy rain, which can have a significant impact on the environment. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of water companies contaminating rivers and inland waters in this way, leading to fines and legal action.

For example, in 2019, Southern Water was fined a record £126 million for deliberately releasing billions of litres of sewage into the environment over a period of years, resulting in serious harm to the environment and public health. Similarly, in 2021, Thames Water was fined £4 million after pleading guilty to illegally discharging sewage into a river in Buckinghamshire, causing serious harm to the environment.

Evidence from River Action UK indicates that the unprecedented growth of poultry farms in the headwaters of the Wye River is contributing to the river’s deterioration. The organisation reports that there are currently 500 farms in the counties of Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Powys, which are impacting the river’s health and causing harm to wildlife.

According to the River Action UK report, poultry farms have a significant impact on river water quality due to their high nutrient output, which increases the growth of algae and depletes oxygen levels, leading to the death of aquatic animals. The report states that the excess nutrients from poultry farms enter the Wye River via run-off from fields and can cause significant harm to both wildlife and people. The organisation is campaigning to raise awareness of the issue and encourage regulators to take action to prevent further harm to the river.

20 most polluted rivers in England and Wales and responsible water companies

River Severn – Severn Trent Water

River Calder – Yorkshire Water

River Aire – Yorkshire Water

Unknown – South West Water

River Derwent – Severn Trent Water

River Ouse – Yorkshire Water

River Tamar – South West Water

River Trent – Severn Trent Water

River Teifi – Dwr Cymru

River Eden – United Utilities

River Erewash – Severn Trent Water

River Usk – Dwr Cymru

River Irwell – United Utilities

River Wye – Dwr Cymru

River Don – Yorkshire Water

River Wharfe – Yorkshire Water

River Tawe – Dwr Cymru

Menai Strait – Dwr Cymru

River Rother – Southern Water

River Taf – Dwr Cymru

The Environment Agency (EA) has called for water company bosses to be jailed for serious pollution, as it revealed that English water companies oversaw shocking levels of pollution in the last year. A recent poll, cited by eastdevonwatch.org found that a majority of UK voters want water company bosses whose firms pollute rivers to be threatened with criminal prosecution.