Caught by the River

Our Rivers

13th October 2009


What a tragedy – this sort of thing is really upsetting. The reports we got of thousands of dead fish – and, worryingly, hoards of gulls descending to feed on their polluted carcasses – painted a harrowing picture for anyone who cares about river wildlife.

Pollution is among a host of threats our rivers face on a daily basis – but it’s only when we see large, stark, in-your-face single incidents like this that people seem sit up and take any notice. However, these are just the more obvious and extreme examples of what is happening to our rivers on a daily basis – agricultural run off,
abstraction and physical alterations to our rivers – that go largely unnoticed and often ignored.

As you may have heard the Environment Agency have attempted to re-oxygenate the affected water by pouring hydrogen peroxide into the river, this is certainly a worthwhile exercise in river first aid, but it does make you wonder how we have come to this – trying to clean up our polluted rivers by pumping even more chemicals in.

Instead of desperately running around trying to clear up the mess we’re making in our waterways after the fact, we need to clamp down on polluters and toughen up legislation so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the first place.

But we also need to ensure that the daily impacts are also addressed with some urgency as they will only serve to exaggerate the impacts of these terrible one off events – we think that’s the difference between caring for our rivers, and simply managing them.

Cheers, and keep up the great work!

Nik Shelton
Media Officer
RSPB / Our Rivers