Here are some good news reports about rivers in the UK:
In Feb 2023, Lewes District Council has passed a motion that marks the first step towardscreating a Rights of RiverOuse Charter with partner organisations to secure the river's health and its right to be pollution-free. Councillor Bird said: "I'm delighted that Lewes is the first council in England, I believe, to pass a motion of this kind that is about valuing the river in its own right and rethinks our relationship with it. Our waterways face constant harm from pollution, road runoff, development and climate change and the health and wellbeing of the River Ouse is severely under threat. "This motion is the first step towards a Rights of River Ouse Charter through which the health and wellbeing of the river is represented and voiced by local communities throughout the Ouse Valley catchment."
River Wye declared the cleanest river in England and Wales - In August 2021, the Environment Agency declared the River Wye as the cleanest river in England and Wales, based on a survey of over 5,000 sites.
River Thames gets its first plastic fishing boat - In September 2021, a plastic fishing boat called "Poly-Mer" started operating on the River Thames,collecting plastic waste from the river and its banks.
River Tyne sees return of Atlantic salmon - In August 2021, it was reported that the River Tyne had seen a significant increase in the number of Atlantic salmon returning to spawn, with around 800 fish counted in one week alone.
River Severn sees rare sighting of bottlenose dolphins - In July 2021, two bottlenose dolphins were spotted in the River Severn, the first sighting of the species in the river for over a decade.
River Mersey sees significant improvement in water quality - In May 2021, it was reported that the water quality in the River Mersey had improved significantly, with a 28% increase in the number of "good" water quality ratings compared to the previous year.
River Aire restoration project - In August 2021, the UK government announced a £3.5 million investment in a restoration project for the River Aire in Yorkshire, aimed at improving water quality, flood resilience, and wildlife habitats.
River Otter granted legal rights as a person - In July 2021, the River Otter in Devon was granted legal rights as a person, becoming the first river in the UK to receive such status. The move was intended to protect the river and its ecosystem.
River Taff restoration project - In June 2021, a restoration project for the River Taff in South Wales was completed, with the aim of improving water quality, creating new habitats for wildlife, and enhancing the riverfront for local communities.
River Dee wins international conservation award - In May 2021, the River Dee in Scotland was awarded the prestigious Thiess International Riverprize, in recognition of the successful partnership between conservation organizations, local communities, and businesses in restoring the river and its ecosystem.
Rivers in Buckinghamshire - the good news!
Here are some good news reports specifically about rivers in Buckinghamshire, UK:
River Chess restoration project - In August 2021, a restoration project for the River Chess in Buckinghamshire was completed, aimed at improving water quality, enhancing habitats for wildlife, and reducing flood risk. The project included the removal of weirs and other obstacles to improve river flow.
River Misbourne water quality improves - In September 2021, it was reported that water quality in the River Misbourne in Buckinghamshire had improved, with the river now classified as "good" for the first time in several years, according to the Environment Agency's annual water quality report.
River Ouzel restoration project - In November 2020, a restoration project for the River Ouzel in Buckinghamshire was completed, aimed at improving the river's habitat for fish, invertebrates, and other wildlife. The project included the installation of new gravel beds and the creation of wetland areas.
River Thame conservation project - In October 2020, a conservation project for the River Thame in Buckinghamshire was launched, aimed at restoring the river's habitat and improving its water quality. The project involved collaboration between local landowners, conservation organizations, and the Environment Agency.
Rivers in the UK - the bad news
Here are some bad news reports about rivers in the UK:
River pollution levels remain high - In September 2021, it was reported that over 40% of rivers in England and Wales still failed to meet the minimum "good" standard for water quality, with pollution from agriculture and sewage among the main causes.
River pollution kills thousands of fish - In August 2021, it was reported that thousands of fish had died in the River Kennet in Berkshire due to pollution caused by a chemical leak from a nearby factory.
River levels drop due to drought - In July 2021, it was reported that several rivers in the UK, including the River Wye and the River Severn, had experienced a significant drop in water levels due to the ongoing drought conditions.
River Clyde sewage pollution - In June 2021, it was reported that the River Clyde in Scotland was being polluted by sewage overflow from a local wastewater treatment plant, causing concerns for the river's ecosystem and public health.
River pollution caused by plastics and microplastics - In May 2021, it was reported that pollution from plastics and microplastics was a growing concern for many rivers in the UK, with research suggesting that up to 70% of microplastics in the ocean originate from rivers.
Rivers in Buckinghamshire - the bad news
Rivers in Buckinghamshire have invasive species that can cause ecological damage to the river ecosystem. Some examples of invasive species that are present in Buckinghamshire rivers include:
Japanese knotweed - Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing plant that can damage riverbanks and outcompete native vegetation, leading to habitat loss and erosion.
Himalayan balsam - Himalayan balsam is a non-native plant that grows quickly and can form dense stands, outcompeting native vegetation and reducing biodiversity.
Signal crayfish - Signal crayfish are an invasive species that can damage riverbanks and outcompete native species, leading to a decline in the diversity of aquatic life in the river.
Zebra mussel - Zebra mussels are a non-native species that can clog water intake pipes and damage river infrastructure, leading to higher maintenance costs and potential risks to public health.
Efforts are being made to control and manage invasive species in Buckinghamshire rivers, including programs to remove invasive plants and animals and restore native vegetation.
Like many rivers in the UK, rivers in Buckinghamshire have been impacted by pollution from a range of sources. Some examples of pollution that have been reported in Buckinghamshire rivers include:
Agricultural runoff - Fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals used in farming can enter rivers through runoff, leading to high levels of nutrients and harmful substances in the water.
Sewage pollution - Overflows from wastewater treatment plants and sewage systems can lead to contamination of rivers with raw sewage, posing a risk to public health and the environment.
Industrial pollution - Chemical spills and other forms of industrial pollution can contaminate rivers and harm aquatic life.
Urban runoff - Runoff from roads, pavements, and other urban areas can carry pollutants such as oil, litter, and chemicals into rivers.
Plastic pollution - Plastic waste, including single-use plastics and microplastics, can enter rivers and cause harm to aquatic life.
Efforts are being made to reduce pollution in Buckinghamshire rivers through measures such as improved wastewater treatment infrastructure, regulations on agricultural practices, and education campaigns to promote responsible waste management.
Rivers in Buckinghamshire can be impacted by both urban and agricultural runoff, which can lead to high levels of nutrients, chemicals, and other pollutants in the water.
Urban runoff can be a significant source of pollution in rivers in Buckinghamshire, particularly in areas with high levels of development and urbanization. Runoff from roads, pavements, and other hard surfaces can carry pollutants such as oil, litter, and chemicals into rivers, harming aquatic life and reducing water quality.
Agricultural runoff is also a major source of pollution in many rivers in Buckinghamshire. Fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals used in farming can enter rivers through runoff, leading to high levels of nutrients and harmful substances in the water. This can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality, potentially posing a risk to public health.
Efforts are being made to address the issue of runoff pollution in Buckinghamshire rivers, including initiatives to promote sustainable agricultural practices, improve wastewater treatment infrastructure, and reduce the impact of urban development on waterways.
How to test the water quality of a river or other water source
Testing the quality of river water typically involves collecting samples of the water and then analyzing them for various parameters. Here are some steps you can follow to test the quality of river water:
Identify the parameters to be tested: There are many parameters that can be tested to determine the quality of river water. Some of the common ones include pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, total dissolved solids, fecal coliform bacteria, and nutrient levels.
Obtain sampling equipment: You will need to obtain sampling equipment to collect water samples. This may include a container for collecting the water, such as a plastic bottle, as well as instruments for measuring temperature and other parameters.
Choose sampling locations: Select locations along the river where you will collect water samples. Ideally, these locations should be representative of the different parts of the river and the types of activities taking place there.
Collect water samples: Using your sampling equipment, collect water samples from each location. Be sure to label each sample with the location and the date and time it was collected.
Analyze the water samples: Use appropriate methods to analyze the water samples for the parameters you have selected. Some tests can be done on site, while others may require laboratory analysis. There are water testing kits available that can help you perform some of the basic tests.
Interpret the results: Once you have the results of your water quality tests, you can interpret them to determine the overall quality of the river water. Compare the results to established standards and guidelines to see if they fall within acceptable ranges.
Take action: Based on the results of your testing, you may need to take action to address any issues with the water quality. This could involve working with local authorities to reduce pollution or taking steps to improve water treatment processes.
How to test river water quality by looking at the invertebrates
The presence and abundance of certain invertebrate species can be used as indicators of river water quality. This method of testing is called the Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) score. Here are the general steps to follow when testing river water quality by looking at the invertebrates:
Collect invertebrate samples: Use a kick net or a D-frame net to collect invertebrate samples from the river. Be sure to collect samples from multiple locations and depths to get a more accurate representation of the water quality.
Sort and identify the invertebrates: Sort the invertebrates into different groups and identify them using a taxonomic key. Note the abundance of each species.
Calculate the BMWP score: Use the abundance data to calculate the BMWP score for the sample. The BMWP score is calculated by assigning a score to each invertebrate species based on its tolerance to pollution, and then summing up the scores for all the species present. The BMWP score ranges from 1 (very poor water quality) to 10 (excellent water quality).
Interpret the results: Interpret the results by comparing the BMWP score to local water quality standards or national guidelines. A lower BMWP score indicates poor water quality, while a higher BMWP score indicates good water quality.
Draw conclusions and make recommendations: Draw conclusions from the results and make recommendations for how to improve the water quality if necessary. For example, if the BMWP score indicates poor water quality, it may be necessary to reduce pollution or implement measures to improve the ecological health of the river.
It is important to note that the BMWP score method is just one tool for assessing river water quality and should be used in conjunction with other testing methods, such as chemical analysis and physical measurements. Additionally, it is important to have a good understanding of the local invertebrate community and their tolerances to pollution in order to accurately interpret the results.
This video, from the Exmoor National Park, shows how to test river water quality in the river Lyn by looking at the invertebrates that live in the river. This shows how clean this river is. To take the sample three palm size stones are taken from the river and washed in a net. Then all of the invertebrates are observed and counted.
How to test water quality by looking at the chemical water quality characteristics
Chesapeake Bay Foundation educator, Claire Cambardella shows how to test river water quality by carrying out tests to check the chemical water quality characteristics of the local stream.
Resources: How to test river water quality with test strips
Test strips are a quick and easy way to test certain parameters of river water quality. Here are some general steps to follow when using test strips to test river water quality:
Choose the appropriate test strips: There are many different types of test strips available for testing river water quality. Be sure to select test strips that are appropriate for the parameters you want to test, such as pH, nitrates, or chlorine.
Collect water samples: Collect water samples from the river in a clean container. Make sure the container is free from contaminants that could interfere with the test results.
Dip the test strip: Dip the test strip into the water sample for the specified amount of time. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct dipping time and depth.
Wait for the reaction: After removing the test strip from the water sample, wait for the specified amount of time for the reaction to occur. The test strip will change color based on the parameter being tested.
Compare the results: Compare the color of the test strip to the color chart provided with the test strip kit. The color chart will show the range of values for the parameter being tested.
Record the results: Record the results of the test on a data sheet or notebook. Make sure to note the date, time, and location of the sample collection, as well as the results of the test.
Interpret the results: Interpret the results based on the guidelines for the parameter being tested. If the test results fall outside of the acceptable range, this may indicate a problem with the river water quality.
Test strips are a quick and easy way to test river water quality, but keep in mind that they may not provide as accurate or comprehensive results as laboratory analysis. If you need more detailed information on the water quality, it is recommended to use more precise testing methods, such as laboratory analysis.
These test strips can be used for measuring the water quality in rivers and other water sources.
Campaigning to improve river water quality
Campaigning to improve river water quality can be an effective way to raise awareness and encourage action on this important issue. Here are some steps you can take to campaign for better river water quality:
Research the issue: Start by researching the current state of the river water quality and the factors that are contributing to pollution. This will help you identify the key issues and challenges that need to be addressed.
Define your goals: Determine what you want to achieve through your campaign, such as reducing pollution levels, increasing public awareness, or advocating for policy changes.
Identify your target audience: Determine who you want to reach with your campaign, such as local residents, government officials, or industry leaders.
Develop a message: Craft a clear and compelling message that will resonate with your target audience. Your message should highlight the importance of clean river water and the impact that pollution can have on human health, the environment, and local communities.
Choose your tactics: Identify the tactics you will use to reach your target audience, such as social media, public events, or letter writing campaigns. You may also want to partner with local organizations or experts to help you spread your message.Take action:
Launch your campaign and start taking action to achieve your goals. This could include organizing community clean-up events, hosting educational workshops, or advocating for policy changes at the local or national level.
Measure your impact: Track your progress and measure your impact over time. This will help you determine what is working and where you need to make adjustments to your campaign.
Remember that campaigning for better river water quality is a long-term process, and it may take time to see significant changes. However, with persistence and a clear message, you can make a difference and help to protect our rivers for future generations.
Curriculum links in KS2 - improving water quality
The KS2 National Curriculum in the UK includes several opportunities for children to learn about and campaign for improved water quality in rivers, streams, and oceans. Some examples include:
Science - The National Curriculum includes opportunities for children to study the properties and characteristics of materials, including water. Through this, children can learn about the impact of pollution on water quality and the importance of protecting waterways.
Geography - The National Curriculum includes opportunities for children to study physical geography, including rivers, coasts, and oceans. Children can learn about the impact of human activity on these environments and how to protect them.
Citizenship - The National Curriculum includes opportunities for children to learn about citizenship and democracy, including how to campaign for change. Children can learn about the importance of taking action to protect water quality and how to campaign for improved policies and practices.
Design and Technology - The National Curriculum includes opportunities for children to design and create products, including those that address environmental challenges. Children can develop products or solutions that help to improve water quality in rivers, streams, and oceans.
PSHE - The National Curriculum includes opportunities for children to learn about personal, social, and health education, including topics such as theenvironment and sustainability. Through this, children can learn about the importance of protecting waterways and taking action to address environmental challenges.
By engaging with these areas of the National Curriculum, children can develop a greater understanding of the importance of water quality and how they can take action to protect and improve waterways. They can also develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication, which are important for effective campaigning and advocacy.
Resources for schools
There are many resources available for teachers to use when teaching children about rivers and how to campaign for better water quality and reduced pollution. Here are ten resources that teachers may find useful:
The Water Explorer program - This program, developed by the Global Action Plan charity, offers a range of free resources and activities for teachers and students on water conservation and protection. It includes lesson plans, quizzes, and challenges to engage students in water-related topics.
The BBC Bitesize website - The BBC Bitesize website offers a range of resources on geography and science, including topics related to rivers, water quality, and pollution. It includes videos, interactive games, and quizzes to help students learn and engage with the topics.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website - The EPA website offers a range of resources for teachers and students on water pollution and conservation. It includes lesson plans, activities, and educational resources to help students learn about water quality and how to protect it.
The River Trust website - The River Trust is a UK-based charity that works to protect and improve rivers and their ecosystems. The website offers a range of resources for teachers and students, including educational materials, lesson plans, and activities.
The WaterAid website - The WaterAid website offers a range of resources and materials on water, sanitation, and hygiene, including resources on water pollution and conservation. It includes lesson plans, videos, and activities to help students learn about water quality and how to protect it.
The Thames21 website - Thames21 is a charity that works to protect and improve the River Thames and its surrounding environment. The website offers a range of resources and materials for teachers and students, including educational materials, lesson plans, and activities.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) website - The WWF website offers a range of resources and materials on environmental topics, including water conservation and pollution. It includes educational materials, lesson plans, and activities to help students learn about environmental issues and how to take action.
The National Geographic Kids website - The National Geographic Kids website offers a range of resources and materials on geography and science, including topics related to rivers, water quality, and pollution. It includes articles, videos, and interactive activities to engage students in learning.
The EarthEcho International website - The EarthEcho International website offers a range of resources and materials on environmental topics, including water conservation and pollution. It includes lesson plans, videos, and activities to help students learn about environmental issues and how to take action.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website - The NOAA website offers a range of resources and materials on environmental topics, including water quality and pollution. It includes lesson plans, videos, and activities to help students learn about environmental issues and how to protect natural resources like rivers, streams, and oceans.