Today, the Environment Agency published a list of the ten most improved rivers in England and Wales, which includes the the River Thames, Wear and Dee. This is great news for the people responsible for meeting stringent EU targets for water quality. By 2015, European Union Member States must achieve a good level of water quality for all rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater, as set out in the 2000 Water Framework Directive (WFD), which became law in the UK in 2003.
The top 10 most improved rivers in England and Wales are:
- River Wandle, London
- River Thames, London
- River Wear, County Durham
- River Stour, Worcestershire
- River Darent, Kent
- River Dee, Wales and North West England
- River Nar, Norfolk
- River Taff, South Wales
- River Stour, Dorset
- Mersey Basin
Britain’s rivers are the healthiest they have been in 20 years: no longer a symbol of our industrial past, but a flourishing haven for wildlife. A number of factors have contributed to the regeneration of these rivers, including habitat improvement projects, better regulation of polluting industries, and the Environmental Agency’s review of thousands of abstraction licences, which are required for those impounding or taking more than 4,000 gallons of water each day from streams, rivers, canals and reservoirs.
The River Wandle in 1973. The river was subjected to extreme pollution by local industry and declared a sewer in the 1960s
Now, the River Wandle tops the list of most improved rivers
Ian Barker, Head of Land and Water at the Environment Agency, 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. Britain’s rivers are the healthiest for over 20 years and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning for the first time since the industrial revolution.
In Scotland, work is also being carried out to help reach the targets set out in the Water Framework Directive and successes are being noted. Only last month, populations of resident and migratory fish were found to be thriving in the Glasgow city centre’s River Clyde, which is commonly perceived as uninhabitable due to the city’s heavy industrial and shipbuilding past. Read the rest of this entry »