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FOR THE OCEAN TO THRIVE, WE MUST LOOK TO THE SOURCE THAT FEEDS IT: OUR RIVERS

Rivers are the arteries of our blue planet but are treated like open sewers. Only 14% meet good ecological status and 1 in 4 pose a serious risk to human health. Join us to demand 200 River Bathing Waters by 2030 to help #EndSewagePollution.

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Bathing Water Designation creates blue spaces where water quality is officially monitored for harmful bacteria and viruses, with legal obligations placed on industry to stop sewage and agricultural pollution. This provides a powerful indicator of the state of our water and drives real change.

But, at present, there is just one official Bathing Water located on a UK river. This must change.

We are calling for the UK Government and the devolved administrations to set legally binding targets to increase the number of Official River Bathing Waters in the UK and work with regulators and communities to ensure the target is delivered.

Sign the petition today to help our rivers and #EndSewagePollution

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What's the issue?

The UK’s rivers are in a critical state.

The UK’s rivers are spiralling towards environmental collapse, posing a serious threat to human health to the increasing number of people who use them for their physical and mental wellbeing.

Despite this, every fortnight, over 4.3 million people visit the UK’s inland blue spaces to improve their mental and physical well-being. Pollution from sewage discharges, agricultural run-off and chemicals are putting the population at risk of getting sick, destroying delicate ecosystems and threatening ocean recovery.

What's the cause?

It is estimated that nearly all Sewer Overflows in England and Wales discharge directly into rivers.

In 2019, this meant that untreated sewage was released into rivers and streams across the country for 1.5 million hours. Huge volumes of agricultural runoff also enter rivers, streams and lakes up and down the country, releasing toxic fertilizers and pesticides into precious water ecosystems. On top of that, it’s estimated that 1 million highway drains discharge water contaminated with hydrocarbons, metals and plastic directly into watercourses.

Yet, since only 3% of Bathing Waters in the UK are inland and only one Bathing Water is located on a river, there is no way of knowing the true effect this pollution scandal is having on people’s health, and so industry is getting away with it. This compares to 38% in France and 84% in Germany. Without Bathing Water status, there is no requirement for monitoring to assess the levels of harmful bacteria in the water, and no legal requirement to improve the quality of water for human health.

What's the solution?

Swimmers, paddle boarders and kayakers on rivers lakes and streams deserve to have access to the same high standard of water as those who surf, sail and swim at the coast. The first step to improving the state of our rivers, and ocean, is to make sure the legal obligations are in place to improve water quality.

Officially designated Bathing Waters are the only blue spaces where water quality is regularly monitored for its effect on human health, and legal obligations are put on polluting industries to clean up their act.

The creation of over 600 coastal bathing waters around the UK has led to 98% of these beaches meeting minimum standards, up from just 27% in the 1990s. Now, the same action must happen for rivers.

In 2022, following your calls for action, the UK Government will publish its plan to tackle sewage pollution in England. To truly ensure water companies and other polluting industries are putting people and planet above their profit, it is vital this plan includes a binding target to increase the number of bathing rivers in England. To also ensure the quality of rivers improves across the UK we are calling on the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to set equally ambitious legally binding targets.

This is a clear and direct ask governments cannot ignore. Sign the petition today to help our rivers and #EndSewagePollution.

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