Little, if any, progress at all in most water quality measurements

The Environment Agency’s (EA) latest report on meeting Water Framework Directive (WFD) targets set in 2009 makes dismal reading, with even the Agency admitting that the target of 32% of all rivers and waterways achieving good ecological status “may take longer” than anticipated.

“We are hugely disappointed with this update,” declares Janina Gray, Head of Science for the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA).  “Given how very modest the EA’s targets are, and the low base from which these measurements began in 2009, we really did hope to see some progress. To hear that only 21% of water bodies now achieve good ecological status lays to rest any official pronouncements that our rivers are healthy, and proves just how much Government commitment is required to transform our aquatic environment into something we can be proud of. ”

She continues, “This report shows how vital the catchment approach is to river management – survey the entire river system, determine the problems, prioritise restoration measures and provide resources to deliver them.  Defra and the EA have finally agreed to this approach, and must now provide the necessary new funding required to deliver measures to achieve WFD targets and, most importantly, to monitor their effectiveness."

S&TA's CEO, Paul Knight, adds, "We recognise that this report's findings are the result of enhanced monitoring and investigations providing better evidence for water body classification. But why has it taken to very nearly the end of the first cycle of this Directive to find out the true ecological state of our rivers?  This Government must stop boasting of being the most environmentally aware ever, and commit to genuine actions which will achieve GES in all our water bodies within the prescribed timescales..”