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 Noughties were nice years for rivers

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Posts : 490
Join date : 2009-12-27

PostSubject: Noughties were nice years for rivers   Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:41 pm

Noughties were nice years for rivers

The last decade has been the best for rivers since the industrial revolution, the Environment Agency said today.

The Environment Agency highlighted dramatic environmental and water quality improvements and the resulting recovery in species of wildlife to back its claim. These include:

Serious water pollution incidents more than halved since 2001
Starting a major programme to restore flows and protect rivers and wetlands from the impact of excessive abstraction of water
The return of the water vole after a dramatic decline in the 1990s
Otters returning to every region in England and Wales
Record numbers of salmon and sea trout in the Mersey, Tyne and Thames
River Thames winning world’s biggest environmental prize
Water quality has improved year on year for the last 20 years
The organisation has pledged to clean up a further 9,500 miles of rivers across England and Wales in the next five years – the distance between the UK and Australia.

The Environment Agency also said that new EU standards would create even tougher challenges in the decade ahead. Rivers will be measured on factors such as non-native species and man-made changes to river courses, as well as water quality.

Cleaner water

Figures from the Environment Agency show that rivers in England and Wales have improved year on year for the past two decades. Cleaner water is helping the recovery of British fish and wildlife thought to have vanished from some waterways. Additionally, the number of serious water pollution incidents has more than halved since 2001.

Record numbers of sea trout have been recorded in the Thames this year after many fish species in the lower reaches of the river were wiped out in the 1830s by pollution. The River Tyne has witnessed the highest number of migrating salmon since records began. To supplement returning fish populations, the Environment Agency’s fish farms put over half a million fish, including tench, barbel, dace, chub and roach, into rivers this year to enhance angling at popular fishing spots.

The water vole is also making a welcome comeback. Earlier this year, an Environment Agency-led survey discovered 30 locations where the critically endangered mammal - immortalised as Ratty in Wind in the Willows - is re-grouping after a dramatic decline in the 1990s.

The Environment Agency has also predicted that otter populations will now fully recover across England in less than 20 years. Otters, which almost disappeared from England in the 1970s because of the toxic effects of pesticides, are now found in every region of Wales and England. The number of sites with evidence of otter life has increased from six per cent in 1977/79 to almost 60 per cent in 2009/10.


The River Thames, of which stretches were once “biologically dead” but are now thriving, was selected out of hundreds of rivers worldwide as the winner of International Theiss River Prize in October. The honour, which celebrates outstanding achievement in river management and restoration, recognised that the Thames is now home to at least 125 different fish species including internationally important smelt and shad – while its estuary supports viable shellfisheries and is a nursery ground for commercial sole and bass stocks.

Ian Barker, the Environment Agency’s Head of Water, said:

“The last decade shows how far we’ve come in reducing pollution and improving water quality and river habitats. Rivers in England and Wales are at their healthiest for over a century, with otters, salmon and other wildlife returning to many rivers in record numbers in locations across the country.

“But there are still big challenges. Pollution from fields and roads needs to be tackled and the Environment Agency has plans in place to re-vitalise 9,500 miles of waterways between now and 2015. We will continue to work with farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce pollution and improve water quality even further.”
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Steve Holmes

Posts : 2435
Join date : 2010-01-28

PostSubject: Re: Noughties were nice years for rivers   Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:28 pm

Good article - credit where credit's due to them aswell. The Thames is teeming with life now - bird, fish and insect.
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James Page

Posts : 2152
Join date : 2010-01-21

PostSubject: Re: Noughties were nice years for rivers   Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:47 pm

all very nice, a pat on the back to everyone for making things better

while water companies can pollute, and the law allows them not to have to say how much
its all easily broken
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Posts : 490
Join date : 2009-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Noughties were nice years for rivers   Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:28 pm

A follow up from a leading expert:

Pond Conservation reaction to river quality statement

Pond Conservation reacts to the Environment Agency's New Year press release claiming that 'rivers have never been better'.

Little change in flows of filth

It's always pleasant to read good news at the year's end. Unfortunately, this tale from the Environment Agency (report, 31 December) that our rivers are "at their healthiest for over a century" isn't one of them.

The Agency has picked out a few charismatic river species (salmon, water vole, otter), selectively reported the truth about them, and ignored the bad news about water quality.

Although salmon have returned to the formerly filthy Tyne and Mersey, the Agency's own data show that across England and Wales the overall trend in salmon numbers has been downward since the late 1980s. Numbers in 2009 are the lowest on record.

Across the river system as a whole, government statisticians describe the Environment Agency's results as showing "little change" in river biological quality, "little change" from a very low base. Agency data show that 75 per cent of our rivers do not even reach "good" standard.

If you pour a bucket of rainwater into a barrel of sewage you can call it "cleaner" but you wouldn't want to drink the result. Many of the Agency's staff are highly dedicated and do sterling work to protect the environment, but to present such a distorted view of the degraded state of our freshwaters is both shaming and dangerously complacent.

The letter was published in both the Times and the Independent and is available to view on their websites:

Picked this up from here:

And from that:

"In fact, while the chemical water quality has improved a bit in rivers across the Thames area, the biological river quality – which is really what we're all interested in – is actually worse than in 1995," he says. "The length of river in 'good' biological condition in the Thames catchment area is now lower than in 1995." In the Thames area, where there is a 140-year continuous monitoring record of nitrates just west of London, levels are higher than in Dickensian times, he says.

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James Page

Posts : 2152
Join date : 2010-01-21

PostSubject: Re: Noughties were nice years for rivers   Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:32 am

sounds like what we anglers have been saying is bang on, now thats gotta be reassuring, hasn't it
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Andy Banham


Male Posts : 514
Join date : 2010-06-18
Age : 50
Location : essex

PostSubject: noughties were nice years for rivers   Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:14 pm

it would be good if they could show the reports from every river over 30 miles long. i read somewhere otter populations where i live are much lower than the national average, i have never seen an otter but loads of mink. one of the farmers by the river has been trapping for them for 3 years and caught over 50.
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James Page

Posts : 2152
Join date : 2010-01-21

PostSubject: Re: Noughties were nice years for rivers   Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:13 am

spot on buddy
so much information us anglers would like is hidden, or just made difficult to find, that sometimes you gotta think its a losing battle
the occasional victory lifts the spirit until it occurs again
it seems to me that if we can get the information, we're part way to finding the solution

in an ideal world, anglers/individuals would walk/ monitor ever river everyday, and put their findings on a national database, in the meantime make full use of this forum to highlight any problems you see, no matter what or where they are
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