HUGE numbers of British rivers are heavily polluted with dangerous agricultural chemicals, a new study has observed .
The first analysis of the new monitoring data has revealed that British freshwaters are heavily contaminated with neonicotinoids and there are growing calls for them to be banned.
Half of the 16 sites monitored in England under the EU Water Framework Directive aWatch Lista exceed chronic pollution limits and two rivers are acutely polluted.
Aquatic insects are just as vulnerable to neonicotinoid insecticides as bees and flying bugs, yet have not received the same attention because the UK Government has not previously responded to calls to introduce systematic monitoring.
The UK was required to introduce a pilot monitoring scheme for all five commonly used neonicotinoids. Some 26 sites were sampled in 2016, 16 in England, four in Scotland, three in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland data has yet to be released to the public.
A staggering 88 per cent of a total of 26 sites in Britain were polluted, with eight rivers in England outstripping recommended chronic pollution restrictions, and two were acutely polluted.
The River Waveney on the Norfolk/ Suffolk border was the worst hitting- a stretch of this venue is pictured above.
And the River Wensum in Norfolk, a Special Area of Conservation for its river life, was also chronically polluted.
These rivers furnish the Broads home to many threatened aquatic animals. Sugar beet fields were more likely source of pollution.
The River Tame, an almost entirely urban river in the West Midlands was only monitored twice, and the second reading was very high, indicating a probable industrial or disposal pollution event.
Even a remote Scottish creek in the Cairngorms was affected by Imidacloprid which is now a rare arable insecticide, but its high perseverance in soil means that it will continue polluting water in arable regions for years to come. But it is still being implemented in greenhouses, which are known to be a particular pollution hazard to water bodies and is used as a flea therapy on pets.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said: A aNeonicotinoids kill insect life in rivers on which nearly all fish depend to survive and thrive.
” The Trust pressed the Environment Agency to monitor these chemicals several years ago, after we reviewed the scientific literature and saw the impact that they can have.
aNow that they have found them at dangerous levels in the majority of the small number of rivers in the sample, there must be a national survey carried out and an immediate Government ban on their use.
aNeonicotinoids are highly soluble, but also very persistent in the environment and could cause grave damage to our fisheries and other wildlife for many years to come.a
Arlin Rickard, CEO of The Rivers Trust, said: A aRecent history has shown how agricultural chemicals which we initially considers it to be safe have proven extremely damaging to the environment and our wildlife.
” The River Trust is working closely with farmers and growers to reduce and better target chemical and fertiliser utilization, however some chemicals are just too damaging and persistent to be tolerated.a
Angleras Mail reader Boyd ButlerA of Reading, Berkshire said: aI have written to my MP about the reports of significant river pollution from pesticides.
aPerhaps all readers could voice their concern and ask their MP to get the Environment Minister Michael Gove to investigate this problem which may explain declining river stocks.
aWhilst the Kennet, Thames, Loddon, Pang and my other local rivers are not mentioned in this report it is highly likely they are polluted.
aThis is affecting millions of anglers nationally as well as the angling trade which is worth billions to the economy, a he concluded.
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