Angling Trust says drought is a wake up call for England's shrinking rivers
I say "lets have a ban on all hose pipes and car washing. The watering of golf courses and race tracks. Now, not next summer when its far too late" Martin James
"Water is too cheap, the public are too wasteful and politicians have been too short-sighted"is the message from the Angling Trust in response to the Drought Summit held in London today by Environment Secretary Caroline Spellman.
Freshwater campaigns manager Mark Owen represented angler's interests at the summit and warned the Environment Agency that they must be geared up to mount fish rescue operations as rivers shrink and fish become trapped and stranded.
Mark Owen said:
"Whilst gardeners will moan about the prospect of hosepipe bans it is the angling clubs and our fisheries that will be bearing the brunt of this appalling drought. The Angling Trust wants to see every possible step taken to minimise damage to our precious fish stocks until such time as those rivers on the critical list return to something like normal flows."
Meanwhile Martin Salter, newly appointed National Campaigns Co-ordinator for the Trust, spent the morning with members of Action for the River Kennet at Marlborough in Wiltshire highlighting the desperate plight of the southern chalk streams. Speaking from the dried up bed of the upper Kennet at West Overton (pictured) Mr Salter told Sky News and the BBC that anglers expected politicians to implement long term solutions to improve storage and reduce the need for abstractions from already dangerously low rivers.
Mr Salter said:
"This dreadful drought should serve as a wake up call for anyone who cares about the plight of England's shrinking rivers. Whilst the Angling Trust supports calls from the water companies to encourage people to conserve water there is much more that needs to be done if we are to prevent serious damage to the aquatic environment. We need far greater investment in storage reservoirs, better conservation of winter run-off, universal water metering and an end to unsustainable abstractions, like that at Axford in Wiltshire, which takes water from the Kennet catchment to serve South Swindon and discharges it into the Thames.
"Infrastructure investment will need both political vision and courage because it will impact on water bills. But we live in a mad world where purified drinking water is used to flush toilets and water lawns in country with a poor record for extravagant water use. Why is it that in the Thames region customers now use on average 1,000 litres of water a week for every man, woman and child?
"Despite being essential to human life we grossly under value our water resources. Quite frankly, water is too cheap, we the public are too wasteful and our politicians have been too short-sighted. This has to change if we are to protect our rivers and the wildlife that they sustain."
Action for the River Kennet (ARK) is working with the local community and Thames Water to help everybody to use less water through the Care for the Kennet campaign.
ARK's spokesman said:
"In the Kennet Valley we have had drastically low rainfall for the last 18 months, with less rain and a dryer river even than in 1976. Unless we have two very wet months, a drought this summer is inevitable. Now is the time to act. Every one of us can make a difference and help to keep our river alive. The water that comes out of your tap comes from the same source as the water in the river, so by using less of it there will be more to support the river and its wildlife."
ARK have long been critical of Thames Water's abstraction from Axford to supply south Swindon, and Director, Charlotte Hitchmough, said:
"ARK is keeping up the pressure on Thames Water to honour their commitment to provide an alternative water supply for Swindon, which will help the River Kennet. Thames Water are aiming to build the new supply in 2014. But the people in the Kennet valley as well as Swindon can make a positive difference too, by using less water, and I urge everyone to sign up for the free water saving service".