Rivers, wetlands and bodies of water across the UK are being damaged by water pollution, putting habitats and wildlife at risk, a report warns.
The report from a partnership of environmental organizations such as the RSPB, the Rivers Trust and the National Trust warns that waters are being damaged by agricultural waste, raw sewage and pollution from abandoned mines.
In England only 14% of rivers meet standards for good ecological status, less than half in Wales and only 31% of the waters in Northern Ireland are classified as good or of good quality.
Protected areas are among the areas that are affected by poor water quality and damage important wildlife such as otters, the swallowtail butterfly and salmon that are dependent on them.
A survey of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland conducted as part of the report found that 88% believed freshwater habitats are a “national treasure” and visit many lakes, streams and rivers for a range of activities – including watching Wildlife.
The report calls for better monitoring and sufficient resources for government agencies to enforce pollution regulations.
It also calls for a transition to more environmentally friendly, sustainable farming methods, legally binding targets for wildlife and freshwater, and measures to prevent untreated wastewater from entering rivers.
Jenna Hegarty, Assistant Director of Policy at the RSPB, said, “It is no surprise that so many people consider our waterways a national treasure and enjoy the magical sight of otters playing in our streams, dragonflies like jewels over our lakes soar, and the pulsating flash of kingfishers in flight.
“Governments must show leadership and act with urgency and ambition to bring our waterways back from the brink of collapse and revitalize our world.”
The report highlights seven case studies ranging from the Norfolk Broads across the River Wye, Cardigan Bay in Wales and Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, which have been designated as areas of particular importance to nature – but suffer from water pollution.
Ali Morse, Water Policy Manager at Wildlife Trusts, said: “Protected rivers like the Wye should be the jewels in the crown of our natural world, thriving on delicate aquatic plants, magnificent salmon and the elusive otter.
“But pollution is ravaging these special places and endangering the wildlife that they host.”
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