The quality of water in our rivers matters. Rivers provide much of the water we use in our homes, in farming and in industry.
Poor water quality also harms wildlife – from the tiny creatures in the river to fish and the birds that may feed on them. Different levels and types of pollution will harm different creatures.
Currently, both the River Quaggy and the River Ravensbourne are failing the standards needed to ensure we have good rivers with high ecological standards and water quality.
Dirty water sources
Pollution is cause of poor water quality. In urban areas pollution takes different forms:
- Litter thrown or blown into the rivers
- Oil and chemicals whether deliberately poured down drains and when oil on roads is washed into rivers
- Bad connections from household washing machines, baths, showers and dishwashers are one of the main causes of water pollution
- ‘Wet wipes’ and other products which people mistakenly think are safely disposed of down the toilet.
It’s not just pollution that affects the quality of our water and rivers. If rivers run dry or have low flows of water this too can affect the river and the life they support.
For instance, too little water flowing can allow any levels of pollution to build up instead of being diluted and dispersed.
Too many people who live in homes that back on to rivers like to dump things over their back fence.
We know this from our regular river clean ups. Their waste is not ‘out of sight, out of mind’ because it is often blocking and polluting the rivers and causing a risk to wildlife.
Items we’ve found range from garden waste – from tree branches and grass clippings to old, broken fencing and ornaments – to whole sun beds, vacuum cleaners and, of course shopping trolleys.
The misguided policy of putting rivers in concrete has also helped to reduce the quality of our rivers and the water they carry.
If a river cannot operate naturally – with natural flows and natural river banks – it is less equipped to cope with pollution or with other pressures.
For clean water and better rivers, the real solutions are to:
- Get our rivers out on concrete and re-naturalise them
- Tackle bad housing development causing pollution from poor waste water connections
- If you use ‘wet wipes’ put them and other items in the bin, not down the toilet
- Prosecute polluters and fine litter bugs