A new study has found that 83% of the Country’s rivers monitored have failed phosphate standard for good ecological status

The study by the Angler’s Trust one of the largest citizen science studies ever undertaken sheds further light on the state of our rivers and the urgent need for action.

Anglers, who have long served as stewards of our rivers, have been disturbed by the deteriorating water quality impacting rivers and the angling experience.

Frustration has mounted as essential testing by the Environment Agency and water regulators has been reduced, and information about pollution remains elusive from the water industry and the agricultural sector.

In response, the Angling Trust launched the WQMN pilot in May 2022, mobilising a community of angler citizen scientists to monitor and understand what is happening below the surface.

Under current Government targets to reduce phosphate pollution in rivers, water companies could meet environmental goals by simply stripping phosphate only on their largest sewage works serving large populations and at the bottom end of rivers.

This would mean that targets could be achieved with the lowest level of investment. However, the majority of rivers upstream and those with smaller wastewater works would still suffer from high levels of phosphate and pollution.

The study found that 44% of site averages for phosphate failed the England-wide upper standard for good ecological status.

Of the 163 rivers where regular samples (more than five) were recorded, 83% failed to meet the phosphate standard for good ecological status in at least one sample.

Jamie Cook, Angling Trust CEO, said:

“The Angling Trust’s WQMN initiative harnesses the passion our members have for rivers and enables them with tools and training to create a rapidly expanding community of citizen scientists who monitor, understand, and actively contribute to the preservation of their local rivers.

“Due to regulatory failures, it often falls to the Angling Trust’s sister organisation, Fish Legal, to take legal action against polluters on behalf of anglers. The first annual WQMN report proves that across the country rivers are suffering from too much phosphate which is extremely damaging in freshwater. We need to see much more enforcement and an update of existing laws to tackle the scourge of river pollution and hold polluters to account.”


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