River pollution

New report lifts lid on chronic pollution of our rivers

Following the release of the Water Quality in Rivers report, The Rivers Trust demands that the government take urgent action to protect the UK’s rivers.

Emily Cooper


Backed by experts, science and citizens, the Water Quality in Rivers report is a devastating indictment of the status quo. It makes one thing clear: the government can no longer ignore the routine pollution of our rivers to suit commercial interests.

The findings of the report, released by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, are utterly damning. They identify a myriad of failures across public and private sectors, which—while differing in scale and severity—have all contributed to the totally ineffectual protection of our rivers. The report echoes the message we have long since been aware of: river pollution has become dangerously institutionalised by the water industry, the agricultural sector and public works. It also highlights the unacceptable current state of freshwater, reinforcing the concerns we raised in our State of Our Rivers Report.

The report clearly identifies the need for proactive education, citizen engagement, stronger regulations, greater enforcement and better government funding for investigations. At The Rivers Trust, we enthusiastically invite the government to collaborate with us to achieve these recommendations.

Perhaps even more enthusiastically, we invite the government to underpin all of this with a response which really means something: effective regulation and enforcement.

“There is nothing more essential than water for all of us. This report sets out the clear, pragmatic measures that need to be taken if we are to be able to rely on healthy water supplies in the future and take delight in our beautiful rivers rather than despair at their current polluted state.”

Mark Lloyd
CEO of The Rivers Trust

Creating cleaner, healthier rivers fit for people and wildlife will not be an easy task. We all have a role to play—from the individual, to the catchment, to the country as a whole. Now is the time for a full scale river revival.

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