River pollution
Environment,  FEATURES,  NEWS

New report from The Rivers Trust reveals the unhealthy state of our rivers

Not a single stretch of river in England and Northern Ireland has good overall health, reveals The Rivers Trust in their latest State of Our Rivers Report

The latest State of Our Rivers Report from The Rivers Trust paints a stark picture of river health in England and Northern Ireland, revealing that no single stretch of river in England and Northern Ireland has good overall health, and just 15% of English, 31% of Northern Irish, and 50% of Irish river stretches reach good ecological health standard.

First launched in 2021, the State of Our Rivers Report is a comprehensive annual study of the health of waterways in the UK and Ireland. With data and evidence at its core, the report shares insights to help understand the issues facing rivers and the actions needed to restore them to good health.

Key statistics from the latest report reveal that 0% of stretches of river in England and Northern Ireland are in good or high overall health, and none of England’s rivers are in good chemical health. This means that the concentrations of toxic chemicals are higher than the safe limit in every single river in England. In all areas, agriculture and land management, the water industry, and urban pollution are found to be the main causes of health test failures.

Lack of improvement

The report also reveals that nearly 6% fewer stretches of river were assessed in the 2022 Water Framework Directive compared to 2019.

“The data makes it clear that rivers are in a desperate state, with no tangible improvements since our first report in 2021,” says The Rivers Trust. “A lack of data and action is holding us back from having a healthy and resilient river environment.”

“Healthy rivers help to mitigate the effects of climate change, support wider ecosystem biodiversity, and improve health and wellbeing for communities. With the help of the public, we are calling on all political representatives – not just the government – to say how they’ll support clean and healthy rivers.”

How you can help

The Rivers Trust is calling on people to read the report, contact their local political representative, and share their views on social media.

The report includes a tool for people to generate a draft email to their local political representative, asking them what they will do to protect and restore rivers. The tool works by entering a UK postcode or Ireland Eircode.

Further information about river health in Scotland can be found through Fisheries Management Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and further information about river health in Wales can be found through Afonydd Cymru and Natural Resources Wales.

Read the State of Our Rivers Report 2024.

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.