Every six years, the Environment Agency publish River Basin Management Plans (catchy title, I know!) Despite their less than exciting name, these plans are really important. In a nutshell, they will determine how our waters, which include rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches and wetlands, are managed over the next six years.
You may be thinking – well, I don’t go to the beach or live near a river so how does this affect me? Beaches, lakes, rivers and wetlands form a complex water system upon which our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our wildlife depend. But currently less than a quarter of our waters are classified as healthy and as recent statistics show they are in decline – we can’t afford to continue on this downward trajectory.
When you dig down into the statistics, the situation really hits home. The much-loved, native water vole (think Ratty from Wind in the Willows) has declined by 20% since 2011. England’s only native freshwater crayfish, the white-clawed crayfish, has declined by more than 50% since the 1970’s and the Atlantic salmon is not far behind, seeing a 40% fall since the 1970’s.
There are many causes for our waters being in a poor state. Pollution, habitat destruction and too much water being taken out for homes and businesses all have an impact. It ultimately means there are fewer places for us to fish and enjoy our natural environment and fewer places for some of our much loved species to enjoy, including salmon and water voles.
This is your chance to help fix things. Today, the Environment Agency is asking for you to comment on the new set of River Basin Management Plans. You can comment on the plans and help to radically improve the health of our waters for people, wildlife and future generations by adding your name to the Save Our Waters campaign. There are two ways to comment. The first only takes five minutes but, if you have a little more time, you can go into more detail about a river or wetland you know and why you want to see it restored and protected.
Whether it is the rare English chalk stream or a freshwater wetland, this is a chance to make a difference! The consultation will be open for six months.
What do you think of the state of our waterways and beaches? Leave us a comment.