Below is an extract from Water UK on the recent launch by two national newspapers, The Times and the ‘i’, of campaigns to improve the nation’s rivers and seas:

This is a good thing. It’s never comfortable for any sector to feel the detailed scrutiny of journalists – but there are three reasons why it’s really important.

First, it’s right that the state of our waterbodies gets this kind of attention. Our rivers are much better than in previous decades – but their ecological quality is still far too low, improvements seem to have plateaued, and there is little attention on public health as an objective for investment and regulation. This will only improve if water companies, agriculture, government and regulators all take action – so press attention can help accelerate progress.

Second, many of both newspapers’ goals are strongly supported by the water industry, and mirror long-standing calls from us. For example:

  • The Times called for more clean bathing water sites by the end of the decade. We set out a plan to achieve exactly this in our 21st Century Rivers report– released in 2021.
  • Meanwhile, the ‘i’ called for a “manifesto for water” based on a “robust cross-party plan”, mirroring our own recommendation that government get different sectors, regulators and departments to come together under a single plan enshrined in law via a new Rivers Act



Third, we hope that some of the assumptions and misinformation – particularly on social media – will benefit from more dispassionate scrutiny. For example, it sometimes surprises people to know that:

  • Overflows into rivers are responsible for about 4% of the reasons rivers aren’t healthy, compared with a much greater proportion from sewage works – and an even greater proportion from agriculture. We need to talk about all sources of harm, not just the most eye-catching.
  • Last year companies earned an average 3.8% profit (significantly less than other utilities), while three actually had negative returns.

This is why a proper public debate is so important for achieving the transformation we all want to see.’

The full piece from Water UK can be read here.

UK Government response to the Times’ Clean It Up Campaign:

‘The Times has launched its Clean It Up campaign which calls for more action to tackle water pollution. We welcome the awareness it will raise of this critically important issue and scrutiny on the work being taken to tackle it.

It rightly recognises the challenges faced by our water system from the impacts of pollution, climate change and urbanisation. It also highlights the improvements that have been made in recent years. This includes cleaner bathing water spots and legal targets for the ecological status of water bodies.

Clearly there is significant work to do and we have been very clear that the amount of untreated sewage entering our waterways is unacceptable. In our recent Environmental Improvement Plan we announced that we will set out the steps we’re taking on improving the whole water system.

We have been very clear that a significant reduction in discharges must be achieved as quickly as possible. That is why we are taking specific and enforceable steps to make this happen.’

The full piece from Defra can be read here. Defra has also responded to coverage in the ‘I’ following the launch of their ‘Save Britain’s Rivers’ campaign, which can be read here.

No Comment

Comments are closed.