Tag Archives: freshwater

River Otter flood plain work delayed to protect nesting birds

The BBC reports plans to go ahead with the restoration of mud flats have been put back after concerns were raised by campaigners about the effect on nesting birds. The project would have involved the removal of vegetation on the River Otter estuary in Devon, starting on Tuesday.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the start of work was “being reviewed”. The rescheduling followed involvement from the RSPB and wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham. The RSPB said it supported the restoration scheme, but it was the wrong time of year. 

Raw sewage breaches in UK rivers 10 times greater than watchdog estimates

The Guardian reports the scale of water companies illegally discharging sewage is 10 times greater than the Environment Agency (EA) estimates, MPs have been told

Peter Hammond, former professor of computational biology at University College London, now retired, said his analysis of sewage treatment works found in 2020 alone 160 breaches of permits granted by the watchdog to allow sewage discharges. The EA has only prosecuted 174 cases of illegal discharges in the last 10 years, he said on Wednesday. 

Water companies illegally dumping sewage in England and Wales’ rivers

The BBC reports water companies have been illegally dumping untreated sewage into rivers in England and Wales, an investigation by BBC Panorama has found. Data analysed by the programme showed some companies have regularly breached the conditions in their permits.

Treatment works are only allowed to put sewage into waterways after wet weather and when they are close to capacity. The water industry says it will invest more than a billion pounds over five years to reduce discharges into rivers. Treatment works are allowed to release sewage into rivers and streams after extreme weather, such as torrential rain, and when they are operating close to full capacity. 

Sewage discharged into rivers 400,000 times in 2020

Photo by Malcolm Oakley under creative commons

BBC NewsThe Guardian, and The Times report water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers in England more than 400,000 times in 2020, according to new figures published by the Environment Agency.

Untreated effluent, including human waste, wet wipes and condoms, was released into waterways for more than three million hours last year. Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said that his organisation was “working actively with the water companies to ensure overflows are properly controlled”.

Environment minister pledges laws to cut dumping of sewage in English rivers

The Guardian, and The Times report the environment minister, Rebecca Pow, has promised to bring in legislation to reduce discharge of raw sewage into rivers.

Pow said that she would be placing a legal duty on government to come up with a plan to cut dumping by water companies by September 2022. Pressure has been growing on water companies and ministers as evidence grows of the scale of the issue and amid increasing evidence of the poor state of rivers.

River Severn: Is a new law needed to help salmon?

The BBC reports a new salmon law is being proposed that could ban anglers from taking their catch home. The Environment Agency proposed the measure and said it was needed to protect salmon stocks that are in decline. Consultations are under way.

If the by-law was introduced it would apply to salmon fishing along the length of the River Severn. The Severn Fisheries Group, which represents 30,000 anglers, said that might encourage more poaching.

Freshwater project gets Arctic charr out of hot water

Arctic charr photo by Per Harald Olsen under creative commons

The Times reports Arctic charr is a rare and ancient fish in Britain, a remarkable survivor of the last Ice Age, but in recent times it has been suffering warming waters and pollution. Now a project has brought the fish back from the brink of extinction at a lake in the Lake District.

The beautiful rose-tinted fish is closely related to salmon and trout. As the great ice sheets retreated about 12,000 years ago it colonised freshwaters in the British Isles and now lives in deep lakes in Scotland, north Wales, the Lake District and Ireland.

The fish needs waters below 8C for its eggs to survive but as waters have warmed in recent times populations have struggled to survive in Britain, apart from Shetland, and many of the native populations have become extinct. 

Britain’s rivers should be returned to their ‘natural state’ to help save the endangered eel, says WWF

The Daily Telegraph reports Britain’s rivers should be returned to their ‘natural state’ with fewer man-made weirs and dams in order to help save the eel, the WWF says in a new report.

A third of freshwater fish globally are threatened with extinction due to a lack of care for our rivers, according to new findings from the animal welfare charity. WWF is calling all governments, including the UK’s, to back the implementation of a global Emergency Recovery Plan for freshwater biodiversity, as part of an ambitious agreement at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference later this year.

We know FNW members will feel this one close to their hearts as they fell in love with eels during the excellent Zoom talk by Kathy Hughes.

Flooding risk rises as UK’s wetlands lost

The Guardian reports this has been another wet winter of big downpours and flooding, but that should come as no surprise. Winters in the UK are turning increasingly wet and climate change predictions point to even wetter winters and record-breaking rainfalls in the future. Flooding from these rains is not inevitable, though. More than 5m homes in England are at risk of flooding, and yet one in 10 new homes are being built in high-risk flood areas. These are largely flood plains, typically flat, low-lying land around rivers that would naturally waterlog like a sponge, creating a mosaic of wetlands that help soak up the water that would flood elsewhere.