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17th May 2024

‘Someone will die’ from levels of E coli in British rivers, warns expert

Charlie Herbert

expert delivers warning to MPs on e coli levels in british rivers

‘I’m not exaggerating, somebody is going to die because of these levels’

An expert has warned MPs that ‘somebody is going to die’ because of the levels of E. Coli in British rivers.

Earlier this week, the Environment Agency said it would start monitoring the water quality at 27 wild swimming spots which would be designated as bathing spots in England.

This brought the total number of bathing spots to 451 across England, ahead of water bathing season, which runs from May 15 to September 30 this year.

But clean river campaigner campaigner Charles Watson issued a stark warning to MPs about the safety of the water in these spots.

Appearing before the environmental audit committee, Watson said the levels of E. Coli in English rivers and seas caused by water pollution will result in someone dying this summer.

When asked about the government’s plans to test 12 river systems for bathing water status, Watson said: “What we know about most of those bathing sites is the water is in poor quality. But what we must remember is that there is no guidance being published by the Environment Agency regarding public safety in bathing, other than those tiny single digit number of bathing sites.

“We’ve just completed a big citizen science exercise – which by the way the Environment Agency were not remotely interested in – on the Thames in the run up to the Oxford and Cambridge boat race where we uncovered levels of E. Coli that were off the Richter scale in terms of what is safe for the public.

“And as the temperatures are warming up it’s half term in three weeks time, tens of thousands of families are going to be in the rivers, on our beaches, going to lakes – none of which have bathing status protections – and I’m not exaggerating, somebody is going to die because of these pathogen levels we have in the rivers.”

Watson added that “no one seems interested” in this issue, saying that neither the water companies or the Environment Agency are giving “any public health guidance on it if it’s not a bathing site.”

He continued: “Of course we welcome a few more bathing sites, but there’s nothing like the national coverage to provide the safety net to protect the public from what is going into our rivers.”

You can watch more from the environmental audit committee below or by clicking here.

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