How unhealthy are our rivers? Dive into the latest State of Our Rivers Report

Discover just how our rivers are faring and the actions that we need to take in our updated State of Our Rivers Report.

Matthew Woodard


Healthy rivers are vital. As the arteries of our landscapes they mitigate the impacts of climate change, support a wealth of biodiverse ecosystems, and benefit both our mental and physical wellbeing. However, plagued by sewage, chemicals, nutrients, and plastics, and having been heavily modified throughout history, the majority of our rivers across the UK and Ireland are far from healthy, with the data showing that:

  • No single stretch of river in England or Northern Ireland is in good overall health.
  • Just 15% of English, 31% of Northern Irish, and 50% of Irish river stretches reach good ecological health standards.
  • Toxic chemicals persist in every stretch of English rivers.

Whilst some of the problems are visible, such as obvious signs of pollution and large artificial barriers spanning bank to bank, many lurk beneath the surface, rendering even seemingly pristine waters far from healthy. Additionally, inconsistent data availability makes the full-scale of the problems challenging to determine, and exact sources of pollution tricky to pinpoint.

Yet, if we are to properly address the issues impacting the health of our rivers and create sustainable, long-term changes that benefit our rivers, we need to understand exactly what and where the problems are.

Our latest State of Our Rivers report compiles the available facts, stats, and maps, alongside insightful case studies and deep dives to thoroughly delve into the current condition of our waterways both locally and nationally, whilst also highlighting where the data is lacking.

Read the report to learn more about the key issues our rivers face, identify the most polluting industries, explore the ecological health of rivers in your local area, discover potential solutions (including actions we can all take), and understand the need for increased and improved monitoring of our waters.

We need all need our rivers, but right now they need us!

Action from national and local government to protect and restore our rivers is urgently needed. Use our email template and tool provided below or in the report to contact your local political representative to demand better for our rivers.

Email your local political representative today

Read the report

Learn more about what impacts your local river, the various sources of pollution and what can (and should) be done about it.

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