Rivers can run for many hundreds of miles. The longest river in the world is the Nile in Africa. It is 6,700km long. The longest river in Britain is the River Severn, which is 354km long.

Why Britain's rivers are at risk

Water is used for so many things everyday that you'd think that we have an endless supply - but water has to come from somewhere!  How many times do you use water everyday and what do you use it for?  

In the UK we use a whopping 13 trillion litres of water every year and most of this water comes from our rivers.  The average person uses about 150 litres a day which is 15% more than we were using 25 years ago.  Several parts of the country are still experiencing drought despite a bit of a wet summer.  In fact the Environment Agency (EA) has calculated that in the south-east of England there is less water available, per person, than in Morocco or Egypt.  As Egypt is mostly desert this quite a feat!

So why are our rivers at risk?  Well, considering how much water we use and that most of it comes from rivers this shouldn't be a hard question to answer.  A third of the clean water we use everyday is just for flushing the loo!  What a waste!  Thames Water has a licence to take 1 million litres of water from the River Kennet every single day - this is enough to fill five olympic-size swimming pools!  There is a limit to how much water can be taken from rivers and important underground water sources known as aquifers before damage is done.  We are currently exceeding this limit and this is affecting our rivers and the unique wildlife that live in these special habitats.    

Britain's rivers and chalk streams are unique and are home to thousands of species of mammal, fish, birds and insects.  So, our rivers and their fragile ecosystems and biodiversity need protecting before it is too late.  Water companies should be investigating how to use and take water in a more sustainable way - to sustain the river water levels and sustain the abundance of life that water brings.  But, there are many things you can do to use less water and help take the strain off of Britain's beautiful and useful rivers -

Place a lemonade bottle full of water in the tank of your toilet to take up some space and you will use less water when you flush!
Save rain water to water your garden in a water butt - easy to install and use!

Did you know?  In the second world war bath water was rationed to 12.5cm - a week!

For loads more information on water, the water cycle, what happens to water when it goes down the plug hole, water facts, phrases and how to reduce your 'water footprint' see the Wet Wet Wet issue of The Yippittee in our fun download area or in the resources section below.  

It’s not just Britain’s rivers that are running out of water - it’s the whole world!  

To find out more about water footprints visit www.waterfootprint.org

Read More: Life in a Lowland River

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