Warning over ‘shocking’ state of our local rivers

RIVERS in the area do not have a single stretch in good ‘ecological health’, a new report has found.

Environmental charity the Rivers Trust analysed Environment Agency figures for 3,553 separate stretches of English rivers in two areas the regulator measures: chemical health – the presence of chemical pollutants, and ecological health – the presence, absence and abundance of animal species.

It found that none of England’s rivers were in good overall health, and only 15% were in good ecological health.

The Folly Brook, which runs through Lyde Green before flowing into the River Frome at Moorend, near the M4, was in ‘moderate’ ecological health, as was the Frome itself between the Avon Ring Road and Bristol’s Floating Harbour.

Further upstream the Frome was in ‘poor’ ecological health from its source near Chipping Sodbury to the Ladden Brook, north of Frampton Cotterell.

Factors contributing to the river’s condition included nutrient pollution from phosphate fertiliser running off agricultural land and urban pollution.

Feltham Brook near Pucklechurch and the River Boyd, which it meets near Doynton, were also classified as being in ‘moderate’ ecological health, with phosphates from “continuous” sewage discharge and agriculture, including “poor livestock management”, confirmed as the source.

The Rivers Trust said: “Almost everything we do on land impacts our rivers. Rivers carry the chemical and physical fingerprint of their local catchments – the land area around rivers from which water drains.

“They have been polluted, channelised, fragmented by barriers and rarely still follow their natural course. Their current state reflects what we’ve done across their catchments over hundreds of years.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris called the report “shocking”.

He said: “This isn’t just an attack on our precious natural environment, it’s a public health catastrophe.”

Mr Norris said he was funding a suspended floating plant system to help fish and rare eels at Bristol’s new Capricorn Quay development and working with partners including the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust to reduce road run-off.

The Voice has asked the Environment Agency to comment on the measures currently in place to monitor water quality on the Frome and take enforcement action against any polluters who can be positively identified.