Ian Barker of the Environment Agency (EA) has stated that, “Britain’s rivers are the cleanest they have been in over twenty years.” This come after the EA has released a list of the ten rivers that have seen the most improvement in the quality of their water.
An example from the list is a London river, The Wandle, that was in such a bad state in the 1960’s that it was official declared a sewer. Other rivers include the Darent in Kent and the Nar in Norfolk. Barker has said the improvement has come as, “Farmers and industry are taking more responsibility in removing pollution from the water, today we can see how this has paid off.” The EA is currently examining which companies with licences to dispose of water are causing the most damage and changing the licences.
The rivers have had a great improvement in the number of lifeforms living in them. The river Thames is probably the best known on the list and Barker has said that, “the river has seen a great improvement from how it was in the 1950’s when there was no life in it at all.”
Michael Heseltine, the former minister will be pleased to know that the Mersey Basin has made the list. Heseltine once called the river, “an embarrassment to what we call our civilisation.” The river Stour located in Worcestershire was once famous for its multicolour waters from the carpet factories that lined its banks, it has also made the list.
Many of Britain’s rivers have also benefited as the EA has ensured that companies are taking less water from the rivers. This improves the flow and biological diversity found in them. For example, the Darnet is now having 35 million litres less drawn from it every day compared with the figure twenty years back. Barker has further said, “This is only a step in the EA’s efforts to have better waterways in the UK.”
The head of biodiversity at EA is Geoff Bateman has said, “Rivers are benefitting, not just from the reduction of pollution entering them but also from our increased knowledge of how to balance the needs of the environment with those of the people. Rivers have many uses and we cannot just do one thing with them, striking a balance is essential.” The UK is under pressure from the EU to meet new regulations governing water in the continent that will be enforced in 2015. Nearly £20m of funding is being allocated to help clean up rivers.