Bathing status bid for river

A fresh water amateur environmentalist has said he will be pushing for bathing status in the River Wharfe in the new year.

Tuesday, 29th December 2020, 12:03 pm
Mark Barrow in the River Wharfe at Wetherby.

Mark Barrow, of Beneath British Waters, has spent the last 30 years filming underwater in his home town of Wetherby but recently started campaigning after finding evidence of sewage.

He welcomed recent news of the Wharfe in Ilkley, becoming the first in the country to be given special bathing status.

But Mark told the Wetherby News: “It is great news for Ilkley but a lot of work still needs to be done.

“Although the news is good what it means is Yorkshire Water will commit to reducing sewage discharges by 20 per cent which in layman’s terms means instead of 114 days of sewage discharge it will be 91, which is a step in the right direction.

“But we want to, in time, get that reduced so that sewage enters the river only in exceptional weather circumstances as sewage does enter in minimal and no rain fall.”

He added: “But the public need to play a huge part by only flushing pee, poo and paper down the toilet - no wipes or anything else as this clogs the sewers up adding to the problem with sewage discharges.

“It is vital we all play as part but also when visiting rivers to only leave footprints.”

Mark is aiming for similar strategies for popular bathing spots in the Wetherby area in the new year.

“I think getting bathing status for Wetherby/Collingham is achievable and vital and I will be writing to councillors in the new year to ask their thoughts on this. “As for the sewage issues at Wetherby ward councillors Norma Harrington and Alan Lamb have been superb in backing me with the issues and so has Leeds City Council.

“Unfortunately progress does not happen overnight but I am confident that in time we will get the river back to its former glory.”

Full results of the iwharfe project - covering the nutrients, including at Wetherby - will be available in 2021.

But he added that people need to take responsibility.

“The sad fact is I still film sewage/wipes at Wetherby, Collingham and Boston Spa so it’s vital we carry on with this important work locally and nationally.

“It is so vital that we work together up and down the River wharfe to improve the river not just for us but for the wildlife it supports as this river has shaped our town.”

Mark said he has had a very busy year underwater filming fish and will continue to document the sewage issues in the Wharfe in the new year.

“To help aid the river I will be working with wetherby angling club to restore parts of the river with new habitat for fish, to encourage more underwater wildlife as it is so vital.”

He added: “Let’s not forget that in 2019 the nine water companies nationally discharged 1.5 million hours of sewage into rivers.

“This is unacceptable and needs to change. In September this year data from the Environment Agency revealed that not one single river in England achieved good chemical status and only 14 per cent were classed as being of good ecological status,

“It is my goal to change this. Freshwater is our most precious resource we need it to survive, Water is life.”