Should we be concerned about the world’s rivers?

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All English rivers have failed to meet quality tests for pollution amid concerns over the scale of sewage discharges and agricultural and industrial chemicals entering the water system.

Data published in September 2020 reveals just 14% of English rivers are of good ecological standard, a rating that suggests they are as close to their natural state as possible.

Figures released by the Environment Agency show for the first time that no river has achieved good chemical status, suggesting pollution from sewage discharge; chemicals and agriculture are having a huge impact on river quality. In 2016, 97% of rivers were judged to have good chemical status, though the standard of tests used this time was tougher.

There has been no improvement in the state of English rivers since 2016 when the last data was published, despite government promises that by 2027 75% of English rivers would be rated good. The data shows only 16% of waterways – rivers, lakes and streams – are classed as in ecological good health, the same as 2016.

Pollution from raw sewage discharges by water companies directly into rivers, chemical discharges from industry, and agricultural run-off are key sources of pollution, according to the data.

The NGOs said the government’s target in its 25-year environment plan for 75% of water bodies in England to be in good condition “as soon as possible” was now all but unachievable.

Ali Morse, the chair of the coalition, said: “Healthy waters are essential for people and nature to survive, and for businesses to thrive, yet none of our rivers are now classed as being in good health. This affects our crops, our wildlife, the nature sites we love to visit, our water bills and so much more. We need the government to ensure we have the legal commitments, high standards, pollution prevention and funding to turn the tide for our rivers.”

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Rivers have to meet good ecological and chemical standards to achieve the overall good designation. The EA assessed 4,600 rivers, lakes and other waterways and none was rated as good on both standards. The highest rating of both standards was moderate – relating to 3,740 waterways, with 793 judged poor and 137 rated bad.

Sewage wastewater discharges by water companies into rivers account for damage to 36% of waterways, and run-off from agricultural industries is responsible for 40% of damage to waterways, according to the EA.

Guardian data revealed recently that water companies in England discharged raw sewage into rivers on more than 200,000 occasions last year. In response to the growing outcry over sewage releases into rivers, the government and the EA has set up a storm overflow task force.

Murky Waters

But critics said the EA was hamstrung by huge cuts to its budget and a reduction in its water monitoring regime. Greenpeace revealed last year that the agency’s water quality sampling and sampling points had fallen by nearly 50% since 2013.

We need to go further and faster on reducing the environmental impact from storm overflows and other sources of pollution including chemicals and agriculture.

Dr Janina Gray, the head of science and policy at Salmon and Trout Conservation, said English river quality was the worst in Europe. It is also worse than the quality of waterways in Scotland, where 65.7% are in good health, and Wales, where 64% are in good health.

She blamed a lack of political will, lack of investment and cuts to EA monitoring for the “depressing” picture.

“There has been absolutely no progress,” she said. “Every single water body monitored by the EA in England has failed stricter new chemical standards. This means no waterbodies are in overall good health.”

For more info read the Guardian article about UK rivers:

Blue Planet 2

90% of river basins studied in various EU countries will still be unhealthy by 2027, new research reveals. This means those countries will miss the legally binding EU target to return Europe’s dirty freshwaters to health by then.

Member States have only a few weeks left to finalize their river basin management plans for the next six years, as EU law requires. The drafts for 2022-2027 are the third round of national plans before the 2027 target and are Europe’s final opportunity to get things right according to WWF.—report


 Around 51% of the America’s rivers and 55% of its lakes are too polluted for swimming fishing or drinking, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP)

Indiana has the worst statistics for rivers, with Florida worst for lakes.

The findings come 50 years after the US passed the Clean Water Act.

The act needs to be changed to have tighter controls over agricultural runoff from factory farms, the EIP says.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act with the goal of ensuring “fishable, swimmable” water across the U.S. by 1983.

Now, a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) finds the country has fallen far short of that goal. In fact, about half of the nation’s lakes and rivers are too polluted for swimming, fishing or drinking.

“The Clean Water Act should be celebrated on its 50th birthday for making America’s waterways significantly cleaner,” EIP Executive Director Eric Schaeffer said in a press release announcing the report. “However, we need more funding, stronger enforcement, and better control of farm runoff to clean up waters that are still polluted after half a century. Let’s give EPA and states the tools they need to finish the job – we owe that much to our children and to future generations.”

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The report was based on reports that states are required to submit under the Clean Water Act on the pollution levels of their rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries. According to the most recent reports, more than half of the lakes and rivers are considered “impaired,” meaning that they fall short of standards for fishing, swimming, aquatic life and drinking.

Specifically, around 51 percent of rivers and streams and 55 percent of lake acres are considered impaired, The Hill reported. Further, 26 percent of estuary miles are also impaired.

For more info read the World Economic Forum on USA rivers:

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 10 countries that are proud because of the cleanest water in the world on the Earth there are several countries that are extremely aware on the cleanliness of their water resources.

Chile, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Iceland, Greenland, Germany and Singapore.

A recent study by scientists at the universities of Texas and Chile have collaborated on research into the cleanliness of water resources in the world. According to the Director of the Arctic Bioculture Conservation Program, “water and air in these counties are incredibly clean”.

For more info read on: