More than half (52 per cent) the people questioned would not swim in their local river because they think it is too polluted. That was the shocking finding from a survey carried out for the Blueprint for Water , a coalition of leading conservation groups including the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).
The survey, carried out by ComRes , also found 97 per cent of people in England recognise that rivers, ponds, streams and lakes are a vital part of the countryside and 94 per cent of people often visit a stream, river or lake to relax or for leisure, but three-quarters feel that the water environment is at risk.
Carrie Hume, Head of Conservation Policy at WWT, said: “These findings show that people really value their local wetlands but are concerned by the poor state of many of them. WWT would like to encourage everyone to let the policy makers know your views on this issue. Right now we have an opportunity to shape vital future water policy and every opinion is valid and counts.”
The Environment Agency is currently asking for the public’s feedback on their Draft River Basin Management Plans. WWT is encouraging everyone who values wetlands to take part in the consultation and help shape future water policy. Guidance for anyone wanting to respond to the consultation is published on WWT’s website. The consultation runs until 22 June and WWT is asking people to copy their response to us, particularly if they think it is relevant to one of our centres.
Over the last two years WWT, as part of the Blueprint for Water coalition, has been urging the Government to take action to change the way we manage our water.
The Blueprint for Water coalition wants a country where we are less wasteful of our water; where we keep our rivers flowing, clean and healthy and our wetlands wet; where the water we use is priced fairly and polluters are made to pay; where our waste is properly treated and not washed straight into waterways. In 2006, coalition members handed Ministers a 10-step plan for improving the water environment for people and wildlife by 2015.
The Blueprint for Water will publish their third document ’2009 the time to act’ to coincide with World Water Day tomorrow (22 March). This publication sets out water priorities for 2009 and states that although significant progress has been made in some areas of water policy, there has been little progress in others.
The coalition is calling upon the Government to make the most of the new legislation on floods and water expected this spring, as well as key decisions on water company investment and implementation of the Water Framework Directive, to protect water for the benefit of both people and wildlife across the UK.
 – Blueprint for Water is a campaign of Wildlife and Countryside Link and is supported by the following 16 organisations:
Association of Rivers Trusts
Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust
Campaign to Protect Rural England
Institute of Fisheries Management
Marine Conservation Society
The National Trust
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Salmon & Trout Association
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
The Wildlife Trusts
Zoological Society London
For more information please visit www.blueprintforwater.org.uk or www.wcl.org.uk
 – ComRes interviewed 1009 English adults by telephone between 6th and 8th February 2009. Data were weighted to be representative demographically of all English adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables of the results are available at www.comres.co.uk.
Future Water is the The Government’s water strategy for England and was published in 2008. This strategy sets out the Government’s long-term vision for water and the framework for water management in England.