Water companies help Environment Agency improve river standards

The Environment Agency (EA) has today (30 August) published a list of the 10 most improved rivers in the UK, with the list including one river than was officially declared a 'sewer' in the 1960s.

According to the Agency, the UK’s rivers are now at the “healthiest levels for 20 years” and water quality has been improved as a result of work by water companies, businesses and farmers.

The list of improved rivers included: the River Wandle in south west London, River Thames in London, River Wear in County Durham, River Stout in Worcerstershire, River Darent in Kent, River Dee in Wales and north west England, River Nar in Norfolk, River Taff in south Wales, River Stour in Dorset and the Mercy Basin in north west England.

The EA’s head of land and water, Ian Barker, said: “Work that we have done with farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce the amount of water taken from rivers, minimise pollution and improve water quality is really paying off – as these rivers show”.

An EA spokesperson said it had worked with water companies from across the UK to help reduce river pollution by upgrading sewer systems. He added that the EA also had a £4bn investment cycle that runs to 2015 to clean-up bathing water and meet stricter EU standards.

By 2015 the UK must meet tough new EU targets on the water quality and ecology of its rivers and lakes. This year the EA is targeting £18M of Defra funding to help more rivers meet these new EU targets.

Barker added: “There is still more to be done, and we have plans to transform a further 9,500 miles of rivers in England and Wales by 2015 – the equivalent of the distance between the UK and Australia.”

Meanwhile, environment minister Lord Henley commented: “England’s rivers were once home to many iconic species of wildlife, and with Defra’s £110M funding to help clean up England’s rivers and the extensive work being done by the Environment Agency, water companies and landowners, we’re already seeing fish and mammals, including salmon and otters, thriving once more.”

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie