The country’s rivers are facing a bit of a shitshow right now. All over the UK, waterways have become dumping grounds for eye-watering amounts of sewage. According to recent data, water companies pumped waste into rivers across England and Wales for a total of 2.4 million hours (or 388 years) in just 12 months.
The campaign group ‘Top of the Poops’ says that this figure has decreased since 2020 but not by any amount worthy of celebration. Now the group has collated data from the Environment Agency to reveal the 20 most polluted rivers in the UK.
The worst affected river was the Severn, the longest in the country. In just one year it had sewage pumped into it on 2,656 separate occasions by Severn Trent Water for a total of 28,741 hours. The River Calder shortly follows, with Yorkshire Water having discharged 27,901 hours’ worth of waste at 4,055 different instances. Despite its murky brown hue, the Thames doesn’t make an appearance on the list. In fact, many might be shocked to know it is actually one of the cleanest city rivers in the world.
‘Top of the Poops’ explains that the findings are likely to be an underestimate because companies don’t monitor sites reliably or consistently. Prime minister Rishi Sunak has said that he would ‘welcome tougher fines for water companies’ despite rumours that the government would scrap the overall £250 million penalty it was going to charge the major culprits.
Here are the 20 most polluted rivers in the UK (plus the sewage companies said to be responsible):
- River Severn – Severn Trent Water
- River Calder – Yorkshire Water
- River Aire – Yorkshire Water
- Unknown – South West Water
- River Derwent – Severn Trent Water
- River Ouse – Yorkshire Water
- River Tamar – South West Water
- River Trent – Severn Trent Water
- River Teifi – Dwr Cymru
- River Eden – United Utilities
- River Erewash – Severn Trent Water
- River Usk – Dwr Cymru
- River Irwell – United Utilities
- River Wye – Dwr Cymru
- River Don – Yorkshire Water
- River Wharfe – Yorkshire Water
- River Tawe – Dwr Cymru
- Menai Strait – Dwr Cymru
- River Rother – Southern Water
- River Taf – Dwr Cymru
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