A river that runs through Rickmansworth and Watford has been likened to “toxic soup” after hundreds of hazardous substances were found in the water.
Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative (CVFC) is an organisation set up to tackle environmental issues. Their recently published report, titled Micropollutants in the River Colne 2023, reveals detailed analysis of water and sediment samples taken from the River Colne.
The project began in 2021 after Affinity Water ran an analysis on water from near a constant polluting outfall in the hope of identifying the cause. A host of pollutants were discovered, and the specialists at CVFC decided further investigation was needed.
Samples were taken over a 22-month period and were analysed with the help of Affinity Water and Thames Water. The results revealed traces of more than 267 different substances. At least 85 of these carry an Environmental Hazard classification, ranging from harmful, through to very toxic to aquatic life. One hundred and fifty of the substances were found to carry a human hazard classification.
A further 25 substances carry classifications which state they can cause cancer or are suspected of causing cancer. There were 17 substances detected that can/may damage fertility or the unborn child. None of these substances are native to the natural water system.
Tony Booker, chairman of CVFC, said: “The truth is that we are all making a very good job of destroying our environment. It is widely accepted that surface and groundwaters are contaminated and many of us will have ‘forever’ chemicals present in our blood.
“We can be certain that many of the individual pollutants found are harmful to the environment, human health or both. What we can be less certain of at this time is what the combined and/or accumulative effect of these might be. If we can find the support and funding necessary, I would like to see the investigation continue and expand.”
Three Rivers District Council has been contacted for comment.