Four women in swimming costumes pose with a large blue plaque, inflatable poos and green water

Bristol Harbour dyed green in river pollution protest

Bristol’s picturesque Cascade Steps became an open sewer today as campaigners sought to raise awareness of river pollution. 

Dirty Water Bristol, who in January left satirical blue plaques around the harbour,, dyed the waters of the fountains green, released a “flotilla of inflatable poo, dead fish and other pollutants” into the harbour to bring attention to the ongoing national problem of untreated sewage, agricultural pollution and industrial waste being routinely discharged into rivers and coastal waters.

In addition, Green Party leader Emma Edwards unveiled another blue plaque. 

A large blue plaque. In the background can be seen green water.
Image: Wong Yat Him.

Members of Extinction Rebellion, local health professionals, a group of cold water synchronised swimmers, samba drummers and a mermaid congregated from 10am and spoke to members of the public about the issue of pollution. 

The plaque highlights a recent government decision to push back the date by which the majority of waterways in the UK have to reach good ecological status, as defined by the water framework directive. 

According to the Environment Agency, the compliance date has been pushed back from 2027 to 2063. 

At present, not one of the UK’s 3,651 waterways attains good ecological status and by 2027 only 4% of waters are currently on track to be in good condition. 

Daniel Juniper, 27, from Bedminster, a spokesperson for Dirty Water Bristol, said: ‘We’ve watched in horror as our rivers and seas have become open sewers since October 2021, when the government voted down a proposal to stop water companies pumping waste directly into our rivers and seas.

‘They justified this by claiming that the proposal was too expensive. These plaques shine a light on the government’s failure to protect our waterways, the natural world, and all of us.’

Dirty Water is a national campaign launched by Extinction Rebellion. It has the support of celebrities like Olympic Gold Medalist Etienne Stott, who said: ‘It’s disgusting, literally, to think what’s being pumped into our rivers. The government and the water companies aren’t going to clean up unless ordinary people put pressure on them. Extinction Rebellion can’t do this alone. We need everyone who cares about our rivers and seas to stand up with us and speak out.’

Feature image: Wong Yat Him.

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