Water Quality

There have been concerns around the country regarding water quality in our rivers. How safe is the River Stour?

Many people in Sudbury and district enjoy playing in the River Stour. Canoeists, wild swimmers, paddle boarders, rowers, fishermen, and not least the River Stour Trust with its small flotilla of passenger boats. But it is clear from recent reports from Government committees and the media that no-one in Britain can be entirely sure that the water they are playing in is safe. The combined effects of agricultural run-off and untreated sewage releases by water companies clearly can have a deleterious effect on the water.

The trouble is that no-one, at the moment, appears to be making regular checks on the quality of the water so that it can be declared either safe, or unsafe, to bathe in. Our inquiries to the Environment Agency recently produced the following response:

“The River Stour is not a designated bathing water, so we do not undertake monitoring that assesses its safety for swimming or other immersion sports. Therefore, we cannot provide any information on this aspect.”

Teresa Chapman Customer Engagement Officer, Environment Agency, East Anglia Area.

Designated or not, we all know that the River Stour, especially in summer, is widely enjoyed by people of all ages. Friars’ Meadow is often a centre for lots of people, young and old, to simply mess about in the water.

It appears to be necessary, therefore, for a stretch of water to be a Designated Bathing Water in order to ensure that regular tests are taken. Copies of those reports could then be displayed so that river users are properly informed of the water quality.

Although we understand that anyone can apply for bathing water status, it is normally done by a local authority which is much better able to represent the interests of all those organisations and individuals who enjoy using the river.

At Sudbury, our members and other river users (including Sudbury Rowing Club) share concerns on water quality. We would like to invite Sudbury Town Council to undertake to obtain Bathing Water Designation for the whole of the River Stour from Ballingdon Bridge down to Bakers Mill, Great Cornard.

The situation at Dedham is also of concern, as there is a sewage outlet here, and there is a release of sewage at least 60 times a year.

Sadly, none of Suffolk’s rivers meet pollution targets so it is clear that action needs to be taken to tackle the crisis.

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