The Environment Agency has found only 5 out of 6114 rivers it has surveyed in the UK are clean. None of the 5 which meet agreed common European standards are in Kent or Medway. Dr Geoff Meaden, geographer and specialist on Kent’s water reources, comments:
“The Environment Agency has indicated that the River Stour estuary and Pegwell Bay, plus the Stour upstream to above Ashford, is amongst the lowest 2% of river sections for river water quality. At times of low rainfall up to 70% of the water in the mid Stour between Ashford and Canterbury has passed through the Ashford sewage plant. Chemicals such as oestrogen are not filtered out, and they severely affect wildlife.
“Similarly, the River Medway has badly polluted stretches. The Government is committed to meet the target of 95% of rivers meeting agreed European “good” or “very good” standards by 2015, but it will have its work cut out to achieve this.
“Factors affecting pollution of rivers in Kent and Medway include sewage run-off, reduced summer rainfall, poor farming practices, and the heavy demand for drinking water. If we don’t clean up the rivers, a variety of species will be damaged, or will not return to our rivers. This would include species such as the otter, kingfishers and water voles.
“Kent County Council needs to adjust the Kent Environment Strategy and use available resources to assist in the clean-up of our rivers. The cost of meeting standards for England and Wales altogether would be about £9 billion. This is a price we should pay to conserve mammal, bird and fish species for the future.” Ends c 273 words
Dr Geoff Meaden, formerly Principal Lecturer in Bio-Geography at Canterbury Christ Church University and Green Party Candidate for Canterbury: 01227 752275. Contact address as above.
The Environment Agency, The Guardian and The Times 22nd September 2009 and the Independent, 23rd September 2009.