Last week I learned of another pollution incident in a central Hampshire river.

This was on the back of one of the most serious diesel spillages in the county’s history in June this year into the River Test.

According to the Environment Agency just 14% of rivers in the UK are in a good ecological condition and none of them meet adequate chemical standards.

A few months ago, I experienced this up close and personal whilst surf boarding in the Solent. It is only when you come close to the water that you realise just how incredibly polluted it is. There was a sheen from boat diesel, combined with pieces of plastic and even the remains of what looked like a nappy floated past. Fall in at your peril.

It is easy to look at the state of Hampshire’s waterways and conclude that the fault lies with the farming community, who allow slurry from farms to enter streams. Or with industry, who are quietly pumping poorly treated sewage into our rivers. But more often that not it is us as consumers that are to blame.

On Sunday I visited Titchfield Haven and watched as a young Kingfisher was being taught to feed near the River Meon. At best our rivers and streams can be incredible places, full of life. Have you ever stopped to watch a hunting little egret, or the stealthy stalking of a grey heron? Have you managed to get lucky and spot an otter or followed the journey of a brown trout? We cannot afford to lose the magic of these incredible spaces for nature.

I am fortunate to live very close to the River Test; the birthplace of fly fishing and one of the most stunning lowland rivers in the country. And yet even here the insidious fingers of pollution are impacting breeding birds, mammals, fish and amphibians.

But all is not lost. Whilst it is fair to say that some of the blame does indeed lie with the farming and industrial communities, there are plenty of things we can do individually and as households to help make our waterways better places for nature.

Firstly, go eco-friendly with your clothes and dish washing. Make sure you buy powders and liquids that are phosphate free. Phosphates may help to soften water and aid the cleaning process, but they also reduce oxygen levels and interfere with the breeding cycles of fish. In short, they are river killers….and what you wash your dishes or clothes with will end up in our streams and rivers. Phosphates don’t get removed in the water treatment plants; so we need to get rid of them at source. The same goes for bleaching agents. So, make sure what you buy is free from phosphates and free from bleach.

Secondly, reduce your plastic. Sadly, much of our plastic waste still ends up in streams and rivers. One of the main sources are over filled rubbish bins at car parks adjacent to water. When you are out, always try to take your rubbish home and then make sure it is safely stowed in the correct bin.

Thirdly, become a river warrior! Many Transition Town groups, Wildlife Trust groups and community groups organise regular river cleans-where you can meet like minded people and help to keep Hampshire’s streams clean. If you don’t mind getting a bit muddy and wet, why not join in with a clean up this summer holiday near you?

Together we can make a real difference that benefits both nature and people and ensure that we will all get to see the electric flash of blue as a kingfisher passes by for many generations to come.