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.
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.