UK rivers reported cleanest for 200 years

Decade of government-prescribed investment means 95% of rivers can support fish

British rivers are probably cleaner today than at any time since the industrial revolution began in the eighteenth century, the anglo-welsh environment agency said yesterday. Results of the latest annual river water quality survey, plus findings reported earlier for Scotland and Northern Ireland, show that 95% of UK rivers can now support fish.

The strongest areas of improvement since 1990 have been in urban areas in northern England and the English midlands. The positive trend is put down to government-ordered investment by water companies in better sewage treatment plus stricter regulation and enforcement. The survey assesses only the chemical quality of river water. Results of a more detailed five-yearly biological survey are to be released next year.

* Scotland's environment minister Sarah Boyack today announced an increase of UK£190m (euros 310m) in environmental spending for the period 2002-2004, set to add one quarter to total expenditure (excluding water) by 2004 compared with 2000-2001. The largest slice of the extra money will be spent on improving water and wastewater treatment. Extra funds will also go to the Scottish environmental protection agency to help improve compliance with EU environmental directives.

Follow Up:
Anglo-welsh environment agency, tel: +44 14 54 62 44 00; English and Welsh freshwater quality; UK environment ministry press release, and report on Scottish water quality.

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