Tuesday 30 August 2011 by Waylandsmithy

Environment Agency accused of ‘dumbing down’ river quality tests


As the rivers and waterways of England and Wales once again outperformed last years’ results, the Environment Agency has been accused of ‘dumbing down’ the tests, rendering the results meaningless.

Despite growing concerns in the media that rivers have been linked to anti-social behaviour such as flooding, babbling and the capsizing of boats, many streams seem to have been awarded high marks just for turning up at the coast and remembering their name.

Maevis Bruin, a staunch opponent of educational ‘streaming’, is highly critical: “When the new Tesco store was opened in that wide, flat, low field next to the river Severn, we knew it was asking for trouble.”

“Sure enough, the first sign of spring and it gets ‘bored’, and rampages through the vegetable section.”

“You should have seen the mess. Garbage, tyres, old ducks – you wouldn’t believe the depths this lot can sink to. Now they’re saying its one of the best rivers in Europe? It’s rubbish.”

River survey

The latest results are based on a number of assessments, including angler-set coarse work, flow charts and a quick guess at how many swans and otters are about – but critics say cheating is rife throughout the tests.

“We’ve heard reports of rats being dressed as beavers, and when we demanded to know the rivers’ sources, most of them just vaguely mentioned ‘mountains'”, explained David Flint, a moderator with Anglian Water.

“None of them seem to have put much effort in, they just to want to go with the flow.”

There are fears that so-called ‘grade erosion’ is undermining the chances of many brooks and streams, and they could end up in deep water.

“Most of the rivers I worked with face a bleak future. One that can only go downhill. No wonder so many end up just slobbing around at the seaside.”

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