River Brue

Somerset’s rivers are polluted with unacceptable levels of mercury compounds and other harmful chemicals, say the Environment Agency (EA).

The county’s five main rivers have all failed to meet EA standards, with lead and insecticides found in the water.

The Rivers Axe, Brue, Parrett, Tone and Yeo were rated between ‘good’, ‘moderate’ and ‘poor’ for their ecology, but failed the chemicals assessment.

The EA measures the quality of England’s rivers in two ways. An ecological measure examines the diversity and health of its wildlife, while a chemical measure assesses whether rivers contain too much sewage, phosphate or other harmful substances.

The findings come as Somerset West and Taunton Council declared an ecological emergency at a meeting this week.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow addressed the issue in a written statement put before the House of Commons this week.

She said: “The EA’s latest water body classification results showed that 16% of waters overall and 14% of rivers are at ‘good’ ecological status. This is the same result as the data for 2016, which means progress…has plateaued. More needs to be done and we need to go further and faster,” she said.


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