Act quickly to ensure the Kennet stays healthy

Written by Peter Davison.

A Water Vole  Terry Whittaker   NaturePL.comA Water Vole Terry Whittaker

River lovers have until Friday to ensure the Kennet remains clean, full and healthy long into the future.

An Environment Agency consultation is asking local people to comment on draft plans that set out how to protect the water environment – but it closes on 10 April.

Blueprint for Water, a coalition of environmental charities, has developed a website – - to make it easy to respond to the consultation and is calling for everyone to have their say before it is too late.

Residents can fill in a questionnaire giving their views on how healthy they think their river is, and what could be done to improve it.

Healthy rivers are essential for people and wildlife – with the Kennet providing a home for much-loved species such as water vole, reed bunting and even the brook lamprey as well as being a vital source of water for homes and industry.

But like many of the UK’s rivers, it is coming under huge pressure to provide more water for drinking, industry and sanitation.

Although there have been efforts to reduce over-abstraction from the Kennet in recent years, it remains a pressure along with agricultural and domestic pollution. These pressures affect water and habitat quality and reduce fish populations.

Since Save Our Waters launched in October 2014, over 700 individuals have added their voice to the campaign.

Rose O’Neill, water policy manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature and member of Blueprint for Water, said: “It’s clear that we are failing our rivers and their wildlife. We need to see government action to restore these rivers, for example by reducing abstraction and tackling pollution from sewage works, farms and roads.

“There has been fantastic work carried out by wildlife groups, rivers trusts, water companies and others to make improvements but we must go further with this effort.

“There’s still time to add your voice. I’d urge everyone to respond quickly as the consultation ends in just a few days.”

Janina Gray, Chair of Blueprint for Water, said: “We all need water to survive but currently only 17 percent of England’s rivers are in good health, so it is more important than ever that everyone gets involved with this consultation.

“We’re urging everyone to take two minutes and tell the Environment Agency which river, lake or stream matters to you via the Save Our Waters website.

“It might be a place that’s special to you or one you’re planning on visiting as the summer months approach.”

Every response on the Save Our Waters website is sent directly to the Environment Agency to include in its consultation. It also offers an option for those who have a little more time to contribute their views. For more details, visit