RIVERS are the veins and arteries of our beautiful rural region; they keep our vales green and our trees tall. So the news that 66 out of 84 Oxfordshire rivers are failing to meet a good ecological standard should worry us all.

Apart from the simple aesthetic value of a babbling brook or meandering stream, they are worth so much more in other ways.

Our ecology is part of our tourist industry; people fish in our rivers and streams and go for walks along the banks of the Thames and the Ock.

Rivers also feed numerous farms across South Oxfordshire and are used by canoeists, kayakers, swimmers and dragon boaters.

But we are also blessed in our county with more than our fair share of ecological charities. The Freshwater Habitats Trust in Oxford, formerly Pond Conservation, is dedicated to cleaning our rivers, ponds and lakes.

And, in Little Wittenham, the Earth Trust is due to begin its River of Life project any day now. In the £1m project, the charity will be “pimping our river” — cleaning a stretch of the Thames near Wallingford, planting new water plants and making it the best environment possibly for the inhabitants of the river.

With good work like this going on, it is to be hoped that the Environment Agency can reach its target that all rivers should have a good ecological status by 2027.