Love your river
A campaign encouraging the public to ‘Love Your River’ aims to highlight the link between river health and water use, so that people understand and value water and take action to improve their local rivers.
The campaign, a partnership between Defra, the National Trust, the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trusts, Keep Britain Tidy and water companies, also seeks to celebrate the importance of rivers to local communities and to recognise the work being done by community groups to protect them.
Visiting the River Chess in Chesham with campaign adviser and Olympian rower James Cracknell to help schoolchildren monitor its environmental health, Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon, explained the importance of rivers:
“We rely on rivers for much of the water we use, so it is in all our interest that we protect and cherish them.”
James Cracknell described his experience of the personal, social and economic benefits of rivers:
“Going to school in Kingston, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits a river can bring to a community – not only for physical activity, but socially and fiscally also. We’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be.”
Local action to improve the River Chess
Local community groups and water companies are working on the Chess to improve water quality, with Thames Water recycling its customers’ treated wastewater back into the river. “We are one of hundreds of river trusts around the country, and our aim is to get local people involved in understanding and caring for their local river,” said Paul Jennings, chairman of the River Chess Association.
“It is easy to overlook the simple fact that water from that river is what comes out of our taps and showers,” said Richard Aylard, Sustainability Director for Thames Water. “Every drop we use is a drop less in the river. ‘Love Your River’ seeks to remind us that using water wisely – whatever the weather – can help protect our glorious rivers.”
Engaging communities around the country
The campaign is working with communities across the country. The Riverfly Project works to improve water quality through monitoring riverfly populations in the North East of England. Community volunteers have been trained to gather data about the number and type of invertebrates living on the River Tyne, a key indicator of water quality, with anglers in particular encouraged to protect the river where they fish.
Elsewhere in the North East, a project in Burnley to ease a barrier to fish migration caused by a popular boating lake hopes to return salmon to the headwaters of the river Brun for the first time in centuries. It also aims to engage the local community through art projects, educational schemes at local colleges and Job Centres and volunteering opportunities for ecological monitoring and river clear ups.
Other projects across the UK include include restoration work on the River Itchen in Hampshire, with a £1.3m five-year project to develop a local nature reserve as an example of good practice in areas such as grazing, fishing and also by educating local residents on the needs of wildlife. The reserve’s proximity to Winchester city centre means that it performs a vital role in helping to absorb water, protecting the city during floods.
Do you have a comment on this page?
All comments are moderated: we will not publish irrelevant or inappropriate comments. Please note that we require your email to validate your message and will not publish it or use it for any other purpose.