It is to be welcomed that the state of the countries rivers is now being vigorously debated across the media. As anglers we are all too aware of the issues and I for one have tried to promote any actions to raise awareness and address the issues. As a passionate angler and environmentalist, I get very angry at the way we as a species fail to value the planet of which the rivers can be likened to the vital arteries of the land.

Politicians will say what wins them votes and join in the clammer to apportion blame for the state of our rivers. We all do this to some extent venting our anger and pointing out what is wrong. Pictures of raw sewage discharging into rivers, dead fish killed by silage spills etc. Politicians play on our concerns; the water companies and farmers are singled out to blame.

But it’s not that simple. The Environment Agency one of the regulatory bodies who are accused of lack of action. They undoubtedly have good people working within but they cannot do their job because they are underfunded or mismanaged. South West Waters infrastructure frequently fails; underfunded, mismanaged ? Truth is that all of this is very complex and the fact is that if we focus on economics and profits the environment inevitably pays the price.

It is easy to blame not so easy to fix. One fact we all need to keep in mind is that it is us who produce the shit. Easy to blame SWW but it’s our crap they are processing. It is totally wrong to discharge raw sewage but someone has to pay. As more houses are built construction companies make money but does the system plan to enlarge sewer capacities, create new water storage reservoirs. The same can of course be said about health care, Council services, policing etc.

Privatisation of the water companies has been blamed for much that is wrong but it was failing as a public service as a Victorian infrastructure crumbled. The tory government passed the problem to private industry. We vent our anger at the fat cats and the shareholders creaming off the profits yet in the complex world of commerce this is where investment comes from. Morally the water companies should be publicly owned but that means funding from government and would voters pay the price?

We need to put the environment at the top of the agenda. But how do we fund this? The present model doesn’t work. Government bureaucracy moves slowly, too slowly for as we dither and think species decline the salmon being a good example of this. As we raise awareness and ponder the natural world slowly dies before our eyes.

Politics is beyond me. I don’t have all the answers. I know what’s wrong and I know what needs fixing. If you agree then who do we vote for to put it right? We can do our bit and raise awareness. Direct our anger in a constructive way. Report what’s wrong; apathy has no place that’s for certain.

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might get what you need”.

It is well worth tuning onto BBC 2 on Sunday night at 8:00pm when Paul Whitehouse is presenting a documentary about the state of our river’s.

Paul Whitehouse travels through the north of England, looking at the impact water companies have on its rivers.

Our Troubled Rivers


Paul explores the change in the water industry since privatisation in 1989 and what regulations are in place when it comes to sewage discharge into rivers. He meets concerned locals in Yorkshire looking to highlight the health of the River Wharfe, a conservationist who warns of the ecological decline in iconic Lake Windemere, and the man at the front of the battle for the country’s waterways, Feargal Sharkey.


The old guy said,


I remember when the salmon poured into the pools, 

Packed like sardines you could have walked across their backs, (1983)


I remember when some anglers caught one hundred salmon in a  season,  (2003)


It’s been a better season we caught forty from the river last year,  (2023)


I remember when there were salmon in the river,     (2043)


I remember being told there were once salmon in this river,  (2063)