RIVERCIDE Investigative Documentary – Looking after our environment, green spaces and waterways is a priority, not only for our own healthy living and mental wellbeing but also for providing habitat for a variety of birds, fish, animals, insects, and other organisms.
You hear horror stories of pollution but not necessarily see it first-hand. RIVERCIDE is a live investigative documentary on the shocking state of Britain’s rivers, delivering hard truths, whilst rigorously reporting the facts, with a call to action on how the public can help save their local river. Hosted by George Monbiot and directed by Franny Armstrong, will be streamed live on Weds 14 July, 7 pm via www.rivercide.tv
Whilst Monbiot will be challenging politicians and confronting polluters, he’ll also be showing how we can turn the situation around and help to restore Britain’s rivers to the natural wonders they ought to be. The live film will also be shining a light on the campaigners working tirelessly to turn the fate of our rivers around. Having crowdfunded the costs of production to enable editorial independence, RIVERCIDE has also crowdsourced intelligence on the state of Britain’s rivers – investigating all forms of river pollution.
Monbiot and Armstrong are great believers in people power and hope to attract a large online audience.
George Monbiot said: “Our rivers should be beautiful, complex ecosystems. But on our watch, they’ve become open sewers, poisoned by sewage and farm slurry. They’re dying before our eyes.
Last year raw sewage was released into English rivers over 400,000 times, for over 3 million hours. The Mogden Sewage Treatment Works in Twickenham spewed 3.5 billion litres of raw sewage into the Thames last year. On one day in October, they spilled over a billion litres, which is the equivalent of over 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of raw sewage.
As well as releasing faecal bacteria and other nasty chemicals into our water, untreated sewage includes pollution in the form of wet wipes and sanitary towels, leading to a build-up of microplastics. And yet, nationally, sewage isn’t even the biggest polluter of our rivers. Agriculture is the sector responsible for most river pollution.
RIVERCIDE will show how the agencies charged with protecting our rivers have been progressively under-funded and under-resourced and are failing to adequately monitor water quality and enforce action against polluters. For example, at current rates, the average farm can expect to be inspected by the Environment Agency once every 263 years.
Despite having special legislation to deal with agricultural pollution of rivers In England since 2018 – the Farming Rules for Water – no fines have been issued under these powers, despite the rules being breached hundreds of times.
RIVERCIDE will investigate who’s polluting our rivers and why we’re allowing them to get away with it. We’ll examine acute pollution incidents too – for example, the tragic pollution of the Afon Llynfi in Wales which occurred last July, killing over 10,000 fish.”
Franny Armstrong said: “You’d be hard pressed to find a single person in this country who actively wants dirty rivers. And yet every single one of the rivers, lakes and streams that’s monitored in England is now polluted. How can that be? That’s the mystery which RIVERCIDE is setting out to solve – live, in real-time.”
“It’s madness that we live in a time of cars that drive themselves and fitbits for dogs and yet we put raw sewage in to our rivers and allow 20 million chickens to poo into a single river catchment.”
“After a year of lockdown, we’re now a nation of wild swimmers and nature lovers – just imagine how much more fun we’d all be having if our rivers were safe and healthy again, both for wildlife and for people?”
RIVERCIDE is supporting River Action’s campaign ‘Give Us Back Our Rivers’ which is calling for a doubling of funding for the Environment Agency in England and Natural Resources Wales in Wales (the regulatory bodies charged with ensuring environmental regulations are adhered to). The Environment Agency has suffered very severe funding cuts in the last decade, forcing it to cut back its monitoring and enforcement work.
The Eden Project is backing Rivercide’s call for the British public to set up Friends of Rivergroups to protect their local rivers, organise clean-ups, take part in citizen science monitoring projects, campaign for Bathing Water Status (only one English river – the Wharfe in Ilkley, Yorkshire – has this status, compared to 573 in France) and to advocate for natural solutions like wide buffer zones, in which no slurry-spreading or other polluting activities can take place, along all rivers.
Sir Tim Smit, the founder of The Eden Project, said “The Eden Project has more than a million visitors a year and by far the most common question we hear is: how can my family get involved in protecting the environment? So we are delighted to be backing Rivercide’s call for a nationwide rivers clean-up and we will be encouraging our millions of subscribers to get involved in protecting their local rivers.”