Hundreds of English rivers drained below sustainable levels despite looming drought crisis

Nearly a quarter of all the rivers in England are at risk because of the vast amounts of water being removed for use by farms, businesses and people homes, according to a new report.
Environment Agency figures obtained under freedom of information law by conservation charity WWF showed that 14 per cent of rivers were classed as over-abstracted – “meaning water removed is causing river to drop below levels required to sustain wildlife”.
The group warned Britain had experienced its driest winter and early spring in 20 years and was now in a “particularly perilous” situation with the prospect of further dry weather during the summer.
“If we have a dry summer, our green and pleasant land could become as parched as some of the Mediterranean.
“We have already seen the impacts of a drought in some place with rivers drying up or running low,” Ms Steele said.
“The UK Government must urgently set out an ambitious long-term plan for the environment, including new policies to manage our water resources, a plan to meet our climate change targets and proposals to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and protect our seas.” In a report called Water for Wildlife: Tackling Drought and Unsustainable Abstraction, WWF pointed out that freshwater species had declined globally by 81 per cent since 1970 – “faster than in any other species group”.
In England and Wales, fewer than one in five rivers are classed as in good ecological health,” the report said.
With the pressures of climate change and population growth, action is urgently needed.” It urged the Government to bring forward a promised Water Bill for England and Wales and take “urgent action in the 555 river water bodies where the environmental regulators indicate that abstraction is already damaging habitats and wildlife”.
“This has had a disastrous effect on the recreation sector, as people are just not interested in the area anymore.
“The Environment Agency is working actively with water companies, businesses and farmers to balance the needs of water users and minimise any potential impacts to people, the environment and wildlife.

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