Monday, July 06, 2020

How Clean is My River?

Because of the lockdown swimming pools across the UK are all closed. Which means that this summer the only place to cool-down with a refreshing dip is in a river or the sea. Unfortunately many, many rivers in the UK really aren't clean enough to swim in safely.

Last week The Guardian revealed how water companies routinely discharge untreated sewage into UK rivers. Water companies are allowed to discharge untreated human waste only in 'exceptional' circumstances - for example during extreme rainfall. However The Guardian has revealed that last year UK water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers for more than 1.5m hours.

There is no public monitoring of the health of rivers in the UK, so it is therefore difficult to know which rivers are safe to swim in. Therefore the Rivers Trust has created an interactive map, Is My River Fit To Play In, which shows where water companies are discharging sewage into rivers. The map shows all the locations on rivers where water companies (and other entities) are discharging untreated sewage. The Rivers Trust advises that you should not swim downstream from any of these locations, especially after it has been raining.

The Rivers Trust map only shows where sewage is known to enter rivers. The map does not show where agricultural pollutants enter rivers or where discharges from household appliances or hidden septic tanks enter rivers.

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