Your Yorkshire Environment – Case Studies – Rivers

Yorkshire Environment For All

River Ouse York on a Foggy Winter

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to say nothing of the downright diabolical! Do we care about the environment where we live, work and spend our recreation time?

I have recently developed a stronger interest in Yorkshire’s overall environment and how our human endeavour is having a major impact. I want to spread the message be it related to health, abuse of resources or general disdain for the wider understanding of the environment. So far the various posts have not hit home but I have tended to focus on the ugly or worse: In the last month I have posted with photographs about 9 issues in my whimsical style including:-

  1. Noise is Environmental Pollution – Disturbing a Peaceful life
  2. Air Pollution an Environment Problem in Yorkshire –Yorkshire more polluted then expected
  3. Litter and Wheelie Bins There is a lot of trash about
  4. Naturally Looking After Wildlife Yorkshire Charity looking after Wildlife for us
  5. Visual Environment Hag Farm Ilkley Old farmers equipment
  6. Wrong Sort of Plastic on the Line Railway Track & Platform dumping
  7. Shed Street Keighley – Our Environment Casual litter attitudes
  8. Idle Litter Louts – Keep Yorkshire Litter Free Who causes Litter
  9. Interesting and Unusual Facts about Castleford The Aire and Plastic Straws

To this I would add Marine Conservation in Yorkshire published last March

River Pollution

  • Following condemnation from theEnvironment Agency (EA) in the 2016 study produced this month that ‘nearly 90% of rivers fail to meet environmental quality standards’ now is the time to consider the state of Yorkshires great rivers.
  • In October 2017 the WWF produced results of a nine-month investigation on the state of UK rivers that reveals 40% of all our rivers in England and Wales were polluted with raw sewage. This is caused by discharge from outdated sewage treatment plants and sewer overflows during extreme rainfall. Too little public information or concern has led to water companies and government not taking enough preventative action.
  • The Environment Agency produces detailed maps highlighting the incidence of river pollution but who investigates and acts upon the information. Pollutants from industry are a major concern and the EA highlights :
    • Metal, minerals and  chemicals from industry including paper, pulp and board manufacturing
    • Waste landfill sites, waste treatment, transfer and storage sites
    •  Fuel and power production and contaminated land.
  • The farming industry needs more effort to ensure agricultural leaks of slurry, illegal dumping and fertiliser abuse are reduced or better still prevented all together. Polluted rivers can also be caused by run off from roads, urban area dross and land that has been intensively fertilised transfers nitrates and phosphorous into our rivers.
  • Us, the great Yorkshire public are sometimes guilty of disposing of garbage or litter directly into rivers even indiscriminate feeding of ducks or pets. Pouring items down a drain, sink or toilet can end up in a river. Take care with medications or drugs that should be returned to the chemist for safe disposal.

Over the last two years Yorkshire Water has been fined £1.45 million for illegally discharging sewage that polluted the River Ouse near York and Rud Beck and the River Crimple in Harrogate.

According to the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust the Swale, Ure, Nidd, Upper Ouse, Wharfe and Lower Ouse catchment have a legacy of metal mining  that accounts for 2% of the reasons waters fail to meet quality standards.

Rivers of blood(y) plastic have hit the headlines recently. Some river banks have plastic detritus that looks gross and is doing damage to the water in rivers and seas.

On the brighter side 14% of rivers have good ecological status according to EA’s ‘The State of the Environment Water Quality’ report and water quality is better than at any time since the industrial revolution according to EA chairman Emma Howard Boyd. (What century is she living in?)


Book Cover

Talking of industrial revolutions  ‘Laurie Dews of Selby worked the Ouse from 1937 to 1987, and is now the only man remaining with first-hand experience of a lost way of life.’ Whilst not focused on pollution but the life of a Yorkshire river bargeman this interesting book harks back to simpler times and a less disposable society.


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