Cleaner rivers for Wales by 2015?

Wednesday 17 February 2010, 10:29

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

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The Environment Agency Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government have announced ambitious plans to improve all waterways in Wales by 2015 and return them to a "near natural" condition by 2027.

They aim to ensure water companies, farming groups, industry and councils work together to tackle pollution.


Here are some recent water quality findings from the Environment Agency website:

  • Biological quality - an indicator of overall 'health' of rivers
"Our aim is to get as many rivers as possible iclassed as excellent or good. In 2008, 72% of English rivers were at this level - the best on record, this is up from 55% in 1990".

"88% of Welsh rivers were of good or excellent quality - again, the best on record, compared with 79% in 1990".

  • Chemical quality - an indicator of organic pollution in general
"In 2008 79% of English rivers were at excellent or good quality, up from 55% in 1990".

"95% of Welsh rivers were of good or better quality, up from 86% in 1990".

  • Nutrient status - phosphate and nitrate in rivers
"Our aim is to continue to reduce the number of rivers with high concentrations of nutrients. High concentrations are classed as greater than 0.1mg/l for phosphate and 30mg/l for nitrate".

"In 2008, 51% of English rivers had high concentrations of phosphate compared with 69% in 1990. High concentrations of nitrate were found in 32% of English rivers in 2008 compared with 36% in 1995".

"8.5% of Welsh rivers had high concentrations of phosphate in 2008, compared 26% in 1990. High concentrations of nitrate rarely occur in Welsh rivers".

It sounds like great news for Welsh rivers, wildlife, anglers and other water sport enthusiasts if all of the proposed plans are effective.

The implications are huge especially for rivers where overflow pipes, agricultural run off and sewage can be a problem during and after heavy rain fall.

So what condition is your local river in? Does it support a good eco-system or is it in dire need of a clean up? I'd love to hear your views and comments.

You can read more about this story on BBC News online.


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    Comment number 1.

    Good new, but it doesn't reflect the current lethargy I've recently experienced having reported rubbish blocking the River Kenfig quite close to my home. I regularly walk my dog along the banks, taking in the ducks, swans, fish and other bird life. In fact, I spotted a Goshawk in the area a few weeks ago as well as seeing my first Kingfisher and Otter in very many years, swimming just downstream last summer.
    The river is completely blocked on one turn by a fallen tree, which has accumulated dozens of plastic bottles, balls, debris and a Texaco oil drum.
    I reported it to Neath Port Talbot Borough Council in November 2009 (with detailed maps and pictures). They refered me between departments before I was bounced to the Environment Agency. A kindly gentleman contacted me to state they'd visited the site but have NO remit to clean it up - they are only responsible for pollution. As this caused no pollution risk it's not their problem. He stated he'd put me in contact with the Keep Wales Tidy organisation, who work with local charitable groups, providing funding for local projects. To-date, now 2 months later i've yet to hear from them! I'm happy to set up as a one-man-band charity if it allows me to access the spot in my van, so i can don my wetsuit and sort out the issue myself.
    This lovely little river is a haven for so much wildlife, running down to the sea at Kenfig Sands, feeding the Kenfig Nature Reserve wetlands area as it goes - an important site for breeding wading birds that should not be taken for granted. The wardens are powerless as they are governed by Bridgend County Borough Council, who, when contacted, just re-iterated the issue was one for their Neath Port Talbot collegues, as the river runs their side of the boundary at that point!
    We need action, not words...


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