In 2018, the UK government launched A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment. One of the published goals was to deliver “clean and plentiful water”, and the plan referenced a number of strategies relevant to this, such as “reducing the impact of wastewater”, “minimising the risk of chemical contamination in our water” and “ensuring we continue to maintain clean recreational waters and warning about temporary pollution”.

Parliamentary recommendations for UK rivers

In January 2022, a report on Water Quality in Rivers was published by the government’s Environmental Audit Committee. It paints a bleak picture: “Not a single river in England has received a clean bill of health for chemical contamination.” Water companies are criticised for dumping raw or partially treated sewage, farmers are criticised for the amount of slurry and fertilisers polluting the rivers, National Highways is criticised for the amount of toxic chemical and plastic pollution that finds its way into the rivers, and the population is criticised for the amount of plastic, wet wipes, grease, and sanitary products that are clogging up the sewers.

The Committee concluded that: “Successive governments, water companies and regulators have grown complacent and seem resigned to maintaining pre-Victorian practices of dumping sewage in rivers. There has been investment in the network since privatisation, but underlying problems have not been resolved and capital investment has not kept pace with housing and other development pressures on the drainage and treatment network.”

It is calling for a “step change” in the way wastewater is handled and greater investment and regulation designed to restore UK rivers to good ecological health. An indication that, yes, we do need water monitoring systems to be rolled out nationwide.

Localised water monitoring is now taking place

In June this year, the Environment Agency (EA) launched water monitoring activity on the River Wye which, as we have reported previously, is particularly badly affected by phosphate pollution. According to the EA: “Over 60% of the phosphate load in the catchment is from diffuse agricultural pollution from livestock manure and nutrients washing into the river during heavy rain”, with 19% of phosphate pollution as a result of discharges from sewage treatment works.

Residents along the Wye became so concerned about pollution levels, including tree planting schemes, installing monitoring equipment to give real-time data (which will also give early warnings about rising water temperatures and algal blooms), and providing advice and support for farmers to decrease pollution and adopt environmentally friendly farming practices.

The EA’s water monitoring and early warning scheme on the River Wye is being carried out in collaboration with local wildlife and farming groups, and is complemented by the ongoing work of the citizen scientists.

While there is no doubt that this will be an invaluable measure to help reduce pollution along the River Wye, does it go far enough? A lot more needs to be done if the targets in the government’s 25-year plan for a green future are to be met, or if the recommendations made by the Environmental Audit Committee are to be implemented. If we don’t act now, the consequences could be disastrous.

Improving wastewater management

Castle Water is able to help customers who want reliable wastewater management services for their business. Let’s take a look at the advantages that come with doing so, and why you might want to get in touch with Castle Water to discuss possible improvements.

Some of the primary advantages of wastewater management include:

  • Reducing dependencies on harmful removal processes
  • Lowering additional water usage
  • Utilising effective treatments within your industry
  • Ensuring you can follow UK environmental regulations

Of course, an effective wastewater management process also does the job of lowering costs too, which is exactly why customers come to Castle Water for advice specific to their industry. If wastewater management is something your business hasn’t been utilising effectively, or you’d like to know how Castle Water can help, our team is here to answer your questions.

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