In one of the largest national people-powered scientific studies of its kind six different pollutants - nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, total coliform, pH, heavy metals - have been monitored across 48 sites in England and Scotland. All sites but the River Dart (98 per cent) failed to meet acceptable criteria for at least one of five pollutants monitored, while over half, 52 per cent, of sites failed on three or more parameters, according to Planet Patrol’s What Lies Beneath Report 2022. Despite the positive results for River Dart, near Dittisham, which passed across five parameters, the report highlights the devastating outlook of the state of UK waterways and urgently warns the Government and polluting industries to take transformative action to reverse the destruction of our freshwater environments.

Lizzie Carr MBE, founder of Planet Patrol, says: “Through our growing community of citizen scientists we’ve started to uncover what lies beneath to highlight a stark reality: the widespread, poor condition of our freshwater environments. The results have been disturbing and distressing but only by building evidence to illustrate the true scale and extent of a problem, can it be accurately understood, communicated and acted upon. “We urge the Government to honour its pledge to ensure that 75 per cent of rivers and other bodies of water achieve a good ecological status by 2027. This target is both a major driver of public and private investment into cleaning up our waterways and a vital tool to hold industries with permits to pollute – which include much more than just water companies – to account over water pollution.”