Protesters marched across York today demanding that action is taken to stop York’s rivers being polluted by sewage.
Led by Extinction Rebellion York, the protest also included representatives from Friends of the Earth, York Environment Forum and river users and others.
Some of those taking part dressed like cleaners or held paddles, while others carried banners saying ‘Yorkshire Water Stop Ducking Your Responsibility’.
After meeting by the river, the protesters marched through the city, unfurling a banner saying ‘Yorkshire Water Is Full Of Sh*t’ on both Lendal and Ouse Bridges.
One of those protesting was Kate Wilkinson. “I’m here because I love this river. I walk by it, I live by it – I have even swum in it when it’s been clean,” she said.
“I’m here to ask for it to be protected better, and actually to let it heal, let the ecosystem recover.”
One of the banners marked the fact that ‘In 2022 the River Ouse was polluted by sewage on 1,656 occasions’.
Kate said: “Those should be happening in really exceptional circumstances. That’s like an emergency measure that Yorkshire Water is allowed to do that.
“To say that they’re having more than four emergencies every day just seems not fair.
“We don’t have the data for 2023. But we know it’s getting worse rather than better.
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“And we know that with more intense rainfall with climate change, the likelihood it will carry on going up unless there’s real measures put in place to protect nature, rather than profits.”
This affected the whole city, she said. “Rowntree Park has been underwater for like a third of this year. It’s closed now, and partially flooded.
“And it’s covered in a layer of E. coli. And that’s where our children can play.
“Because Yorkshire Water aren’t keeping the river clean, when we do have these floods, that we’re getting more and more of, the effect is worse.
“The flooding is much worse because we know this, all these pollutants and these dangerous bacteria in the water.”
Kate had this message for Yorkshire Water. “Use the money that we’re giving you to clean up our sewage, to actually do the job.
“Stop making payouts to your shareholders until the river is clean and has recovered – and there are dragonflies here, and it’s safe to swim.”
Last month, Yorkshire Water said it was planning to spend £170K to improve two storm overflows in York – which would “reduce overflows into both the Foss and Ouse”.