Once upon a river there were emerald-faceted pools. Their depths flashed gold and silver with the flitting movements of Atlantic salmon and sea trout. Streambanks were sheltered with towering trees. Massive root systems armoured the fertile soils against the ravages of ice and high waters like great fingers holding the earth. Huge trunks and limbs offered cool shade while casting off a shower of leaves, needles and insects. They became important nutrients to the groundwater and direct food for life in the river. As older trees on the banks died and eventually toppled into the stream, their hulks became imbedded in gravel. Sparkling high water plunged over them, reshaping the bottom, maintaining pools and providing shelter for insects, fish and other animals.
Wide and shallow, hot, polluted and with low water levels, many Atlantic rivers today have been transformed into sewers to the sea. Victims of our ignorance and greed, they’ve gradually been degraded to mere drainage ditches. Efforts to deal with this major ecological disaster have proven grossly inadequate. Acclimatised to only the last chapter of a 300 year horror story, the average person today has never read the book and considers such rivers normal. There are solutions. Hope lies in restoring and rehabilitating our waterways.