Rivers ‘now filthier than in the Industrial Revolution’
MANY of Britain’s rivers are now filthier than they were during the height of the Industrial Revolution, research suggests.
While events such as the Great Stink – where the stench from the polluted Thames could be smelt eight miles away – have been consigned to the history books, it is a different story for rivers in rural areas.
Farming byproducts such as phosphates encourage the growth of algae, which absorbs oxygen from the water, killing fish. Professor Steve Ormerod and colleagues at Cardiff University said: ‘Senior government officials have repeatedly stated that water quality in England’s rivers is now “better than at any time since the start of the Industrial Revolution”.
‘Water quality in many rivers downstream of urban centres has improved in sanitary terms but not with respect to emerging contaminants, while river quality in catchments with intensive agriculture is likely to remain worse now than before the 1960s.’
The team’s research was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.