0% of English rivers reach ‘good’ overall status, report reveals

by Dominic Garnett |
Published on

In a revealing new report from the Rivers Trust, the evidence for change is clearer than ever as sewage, agricultural pollution and other factors continue to blight our flowing waters.

But while the headline findings won’t surprise many, the study also includes some surprising details – including the impact of urbanisation and other activities.

Among the key takeaways from the 2024 report, the Rivers Trust points out that “our rivers are not healthy- far from it” and that in spite of platitudes from politicians and the water industry, things have got worse, not better since the previous report in 2021.


Stepping into the void of drastic budget cuts and the neglect of the authorities, however, have been anglers and citizen scientists, whose data gathering is helping to build evidence and pile on the pressure for change.

This includes surprises that alongside the most glaring pollution from farming and sewage, the “urban and transport” sector accounts for 26% of rivers failing health tests.

Meanwhile, issues such as the contamination of groundwater sources, abstraction and the build up of so-called “forever chemicals” are also increasingly significant.

 While plenty of the findings ring alarm bells, however, the better news is that public awareness and political pressure are growing- which follows better evidence gathering.


Wastewater is discharged into the river ; Shutterstock ID 1972216127; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -; other: -

The testing methods themselves are a huge step forward, for example even if this makes for grim short-term reading. For example, the report says that” in 2016, 97% of rivers ‘passed’ their chemical test, yet when the testing methods were changed in 2019, all failed.”

With interactive maps and the latest data, the report also shows huge differences across Britain. For example, while no rivers in England or Northern Ireland had ‘good’ status, Scotland fared much better.

The Rivers Trust also puts a figure on the importance of rivers for angling, stating that “recreational fishing alone creates £1.7 billion” annually and that anglers and other river users would be “vital allies as the climate changes.”

The full report, complete with figures, facts and visuals, can be found at: theriverstrust.org

This page is a free example of the amazing content Angling Times Members get every single week. Becoming an Angling Times Member gives you access to award-winning magazine content, member rewards, our back issue archives, bonus content and more! Join our fishing community and find out more today!

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us