WATER MATTERS: Blueprint for Water launches clarion call for action

The Blueprint for Water Coalition, until recently chaired by S&TC UK's Dr Janina Gray, launched their latest publication, Water Matters, in the House of Commons today. Link also launched its Agricultural publication, Farming Fit for the Future.

Water Matters

S&TC UK's Head of Science, Dr Janina Gray, lead on the development and editing of Water Matters, ensuring a strong fisheries input throughout the process. The document calls for 5 key objectives to be actioned by 2021, these are to:

  • Use water wisely
  • Stop pollution in our waters
  • Manage floods for people and wildlife
  • Create, protect and restore places for wildlife
  • Join up water management

The keynote speech was made by Defra Secretary of State, Liz Truss, who stated that the Government is committed to a ‘fantastic environment alongside a sustainable economy." She admitted that too much Government policy had historically been delivered within silos, and that she wanted to see a more integrated, joined up approach to environmental protection that benefits everyone. She said that it isn't just about carbon storage, but an integrated approach across all the issues impacting rivers.

Paul Knight, S&TC UK's CEO, said, "The cynic would say that we have heard all this before, as indeed we have, including the Secretary of State's assertion that our rivers have never been cleaner, despite only 17% currently being at good ecological status. It is now time to face the reality of the parlous state of many of our river systems and turn the talk into positive delivery. The water environment desperately needs action, not just words spoken at a parliamentary launch."

Paul Knight added, "We are very proud that Janina Gray led the Blueprint team in producing Water Matters, which will act as a barometer by which the Government's protection of our rivers, lakes, fish and all other water-dependent wildlife will be judged in the foreseeable future."

Nick Measham, S&TC UK's Freshwater Campaign's Consultant, said, "Water Matters lays out a vital programme of measures for the Government and its Agencies to deliver over the next 6 years. S&TC UK's National Riverfly Census and phosphate monitoring work is already providing sound scientific data to prove that many of our rivers are suffering ecologically from a wide cocktail of stressors. For too long these have been put on the ‘too difficult to tackle' shelf by official regulators and our job is now to use this data to influence them in every way possible to protect our rivers and fish stocks and restore them to ecological health. We are very keen to work with Agencies to help deliver proper environmental protection for waters and fish, but ultimately our data will be used to hold the Government to account."

S&TC UK's data collection is important, because the Secretary of State confirmed that she wanted to see more 3rd sector data included in future decision making. We do not intend to disappoint her!

Dr Janina Gray, currently on maternity leave, said, "It is really satisfying to see all the hard work in producing this document out of the contributions from so many different environmental organisations come to fruition. All of us – S&TC UK and our colleagues across the Blueprint Coalition – now look to the Government for strong regulation, resource provision and support for 3rd sector organisations to collectively deliver the objectives set out in Water Matters."

Water Matters can be found at http://blueprintforwater.org.uk/publications/