Water pollution causing ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for rivers

2 weeks ago 8

By Rob England
BBC News

image copyrightBen Tranter

image captionIn April contamination caused foam to broad a water successful Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, sidesplitting hundreds of fish

Harmful h2o contamination that tin impact quality wellness and wildlife shows "no signs" of slowing, campaigners say.

Environment Agency (EA) figures suggest the fig of incidents roseate by astir a 4th successful the twelvemonth to March 2021 compared with the erstwhile year.

River Action UK said reductions successful enforcement meant polluters continued to enactment "filth" into waterways.

An EA spokesperson said it took beardown enactment against those who interruption biology regulations.

However, bureau resources to show the agriculture assemblage person been successful diminution for a fig of years.

BBC investigation of EA information showed that 325 class 1 and 2 superior h2o contamination incidents were recorded successful the twelvemonth to March 2021, up 23% connected the twelvemonth to March 2020.

This was inactive little than a highest of 377 successful 2013-14.

Reported contamination is fixed a class from 1 to 4 based connected however damaging it is to the situation - 1 being the astir serious.

A class 1 incidental has a "major effect" connected either h2o quality, quality health, conservation oregon businesses, portion class 2 has a "significant effect".

Mark Lloyd, main enforcement of The Rivers Trust, said these superior incidents "usually progressive wildlife being killed, specified arsenic food and invertebrates", which tin impact the nutrient chains of different animals.

He said it was besides "hazardous for humans, due to the fact that of the pathogens which tin beryllium recovered successful polluted water".

In the latest authorities figures from 2019, superior contamination was attributed chiefly to amerciable discarded activities specified arsenic fly-tipping, discarded treatment, sewage from h2o companies and farming activities.

Mr Lloyd said much caller figures showed determination was "no sign" of h2o contamination decreasing crossed England, with astir incidents being owed to h2o companies and farming activities.

"These are conscionable the superior incidents - determination are galore much which are little significant," helium added, informing that contamination was causing "death by a 1000 cuts for our rivers".

Charles Watson, from the run radical River Action UK, said though efforts were being made to prosecute h2o companies for superior pollution, akin enactment had not been taken against cultivation polluters due to the fact that of what helium termed "progressive de-funding" of the Environment Agency.

"The nonstop effect of this… [is] polluters tin enactment arsenic overmuch filth into our rivers arsenic they like, unafraid successful the cognition they are ne'er going to beryllium held to account," helium said.

Both groups person called for backing to beryllium restored to the bureau to guarantee much polluters are recovered and prosecuted.

Sewage and slurry were the 2 astir commonly identified pollutants implicit the past year, according to the BBC's analysis.

In its latest study monitoring the show of h2o companies, the bureau said superior h2o contamination incidents caused "were astatine their lowest ever recorded level".

However, it added the show of immoderate companies inactive gave them "serious origin for concern".

Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd, said immoderate "were inactive failing successful their work to the situation and determination remains a inclination to scope for excuses alternatively than grasp the nettle."

Slurry, a substance created from manure and utilized arsenic fertiliser by the agriculture industry, was the 2nd astir commonly identified pollutant.

A National Farmer's Union (NFU) spokesperson said "significant strides" had been made to trim contamination from the sector.

However, helium warned concern successful cardinal exertion to assistance trim pollution, specified arsenic slurry storage, was "inaccessible to many".

The Environment Agency said successful the past six years it had brought 45 prosecutions against h2o companies, securing fines of £131m.

The bulk of this - £90m - was issued to Southern Water past week for thousands of amerciable discharges of sewage which polluted rivers and coastal waters successful Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.

image captionSouthern Water illegally dumped untreated h2o astatine 17 sites, including Bosham, West Sussex

By comparison, 10 prosecutions were carried retired successful the agriculture assemblage successful 2019-20, with fines totalling £80,000 by the extremity of 2020.

The bureau said regulating cultivation contamination progressive overseeing thousands of businesses and officials had to absorption connected the riskiest and worst offenders arsenic a priority.

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