As the Environment Agency releases figures today that reveal just 17% of England’s rivers are in good health, the Angling Trust and the Blueprint for Water Coalition are urging communities across England to make a stand and speak up for the rivers, lakes, wetlands and beaches that they love.

Latest Environment Agency improvements in gathering evidence have led to a truer picture of the health of England’s rivers, which is far worse than previous official figures suggested.

Blueprint for Water, a coalition of 16 environmental and fishing organisations, including the Angling Trust, is urging everyone concerned with the health of our waters to respond to the Environment Agency’s current consultation on River Basin Management Plans, which determine how our water ways will be managed over the next six years. The group has developed the Save Our Waters website to enable people to respond to the consultation and help these watery places. Rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, estuaries and beaches are essential for people and wildlife; not only are they used for pleasure (walking, canoeing, fishing), but they’re also essential for drinking water, sanitation and flood management.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said:

“While there has been some progress with improvements on our rivers in the past 6 years, the overall picture is very poor.  Agricultural pollution is challenging sewage as the number one problem facing water quality.  The government needs to get a grip of this issue in particular and take concerted action to stop the widespread erosion of soils that is damaging to agricultural productivity and leading to widespread pollution and increased flood risk.  The £2 billion of agricultural subsidies must be used more effectively, in conjunction with robust enforcement, to change land use practices so that our country’s soils are not washed into rivers and out to sea.”

Janina Gray, Head of Science and Environmental Policy for the Salmon & Trout Association and Blueprint for Water Chair, said:

“The figures released today are shocking and show us that things are worse than we thought. Just 17% of England’s rivers are in good health. This is unacceptable and threatens wildlife and livelihoods. We shouldn’t ignore great efforts by wildlife groups, rivers trusts, water companies and others to make real improvements to our rivers but we clearly need a step change if we are going to make meaningful progress on diffuse pollution, abstraction and physical damage and that needs government to take action. It is more important than ever that everyone gets involved with this consultation. We’re asking everyone, as they plan their Easter break, to take two minutes to respond to the consultation via the Save Our Waters website.”

Rose O’Neill, Water Policy Manager, WWF, and member of Blueprint for Water, said:

“It’s clear that we are failing our rivers and the wildlife they are home to. We need to see government action to restore these rivers, for example by reducing abstraction and tackling pollution from sewage works, farms and roads. There’s still time to add your voice, but I’d urge everyone to respond quickly as the consultation ends in less than two weeks.”

Every response on the Save Our Waters website is sent directly to the Environment Agency. It also offers an option for those who have a little more time to contribute their views. For more details, visit saveourwaters.org.uk.

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