The Environmental Protection Agency reports on water quality are a regular litmus test on how we treat, or more accurately, mistreat water.
So this week’s report pointing out that water quality in our rivers is going in the “wrong direction” must be a cause for concern.
The report, however, is not without some good news. Water quality in 197 rivers has improved but has deteriorated in 269 — a 3% reduction in river quality since 2015.
Some 56% of rivers are at high or good quality but the remainder are moderate or worse.
Most pollution is caused by nitrogen or phosphorus escaping from farm activities.
There had been a welcome long-term fall this type of pollution but levels are rising again and represent a renewed threat to water quality.
This is just one of the unsustainable consequences provoked by increased cattle stocking levels, to match the dangerously skewed ambitions of Food Harvest 2025.
The EPA points to another finding it describes as positive.
It reports that fish kills are at an all-time low, with only 14 reported last year, compared to 31 in 2016.
Taken at face value this is indeed a victory, but anyone familiar with our rivers would argue that fish kills have fallen because most of our fish have been killed already.
That may be a slight exaggeration but there is, sadly, an undeniable ring of truth to it.
Irrespective of the changing details, it is certain we must constantly do more to protect the water all life relies on.