Rivers in the UK are among the most polluted in Europe. A study by the British Parliament, due Thursday, says the rivers are a “chemical cocktail” of sewage, agricultural waste and plastic.
Due to years of cutbacks in water management and water purification, not a single river in the country can be called healthy anymore.
The parliamentary committee that investigated the quality of the rivers mainly blames water companies, farmers, regulators and the government. Water companies regularly pump raw sewage into rivers, and farms pollute waterways with chemicals.
Moreover, as a result of privatizations, water companies prefer to pay dividends to their shareholders than to invest in water quality, according to the committee. In turn, regulators mainly try to keep the water price for consumers low and make little effort to improve sewers and drainage systems.
As a result, 39 of the 42 rivers in which wild salmon occur are threatened with the survival of the fish. Also, in only one river in the country is the water clean enough to swim in, and even there people have become ill, according to the committee.
The parliamentarians believe that citizens should also do more to improve water quality. For example, in their report, they speak of “wet wipe reefs” and “fat mountains the size of blue whales” that clog the sewers. They say the cost of cleaning amounts to more than 100 million pounds annually.