England’s rivers are swimming with waste, say MPs
English rivers are being polluted by sewage, chemicals, single-use plastics and animal waste, a committee of cross-party MPs has warned.
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) say that our rivers are so overloaded by waste that only 14% are in good ecological health.
The body lays the blame on “multiple failures”, vast underfunding and cuts to the Environment Agency (EA). The underinvestment and out-of-date monitoring systems make it difficult to even fully assess the scale of pollution in our rivers.
Stronger regulations and enforcement are needed from the EA and Ofwat to help restore England’s rivers and protect biodiversity. The MPs called for Ofwat to limit the bonuses paid by water companies if they are found to be dumping raw sewage into rivers.
The MPs also recommended that water companies create sections of rivers that are suitable as bathing water by 2025. Currently, many of our rivers are more polluted than people realise, and designated bathing areas would help the public to make safer choices when enjoying our rivers.
Jane Nickerson, the Chief Executive of Swim England, told the MPs that around half of those surveyed were unaware that untreated sewage was dumped into rivers. She said: “Most people who go swimming in the water, in the open water, do not realise the risks they are taking. It would not make you that happy if you knew what you were swimming in. It really would not, and people do not know, and that is what worries me.”
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“It would not make you happy if you knew what you were swimming in. People do not know, and that is what worries me.” Jane Nickerson, Swim England