How The Environment Agency Has Spun The News On River Quality

A clean-up operation of the Thames at Brentford, south-west London. Retrieved from:

“But we must take the EA’s words with a heavy pinch of salt. The Wandle, which it says has “become a vibrant rich habitat due to better environmental regulation”, was massively polluted only a few years ago when Thames Water spilled thousands of gallons of industrial-strength chlorine into it; and only three months ago 450,000 tonnes of raw sewage escaped into the Thames, killing fish and leaving pollution.

However, the greater spin is to suggest that these and other English rivers are in good nick. The 10 rivers chosen here have been carefully selected and do not reflect the true status of our rivers, most of which are suffering because of abstraction, sewage, blockages to fish passes and other pollution.

What the government has done is to measure these rivers via what is called the General Quality Assessment (GQA). This assesses the water quality by the levels of oxygen demand (BOD), ammonia and dissolved oxygen found in the water. By this measure, rivers are indeed improving across the board and it is correct to say there has been a steady improvement in quality for 20 years, with 70% of rivers reaching “good” or “fair” standard.”

Read more: Guardian


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