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Cambridge University Science Magazine
A new report by the Environment Agency has revealed that Britain’s rivers and waterways are currently healthier and more alive than they have been at any time since before the Industrial Revolution. The Thames in particular, stretches of which were completely dead in 1830, was awarded a biodiversity prize in 2010, and is known to support in excess of 125 different fish species.

Other successes include an approximate tenfold increase in British otter populations over the last twenty years and a gradual recovery of the water vole population after a severe population crash in the 1990s.

The Environment Agency has congratulated farmers and industries alike for helping to reduce water pollution, with the number of severe incidents halved in the last ten years. This has allowed record salmon returns to British rivers and consistent improvement of water quality every year since 1990.

There is still a lot of work to do though. New EU guidelines require waterways to be assessed based on populations of non-native species and the extent of human interference. And there is still significant pollution in many rivers that comes from fields and roadways. The Environment Agency has pledged to clear another 9500 miles of waterways in five years, but can it ever be enough?

Written by Jonathan Lawson