THE present and future status of rivers in the area were discussed at a meeting.

Maldon Town Mayor Councillor Andrew Lay organised the public meeting in the Town Hall in Market Hill.

A panel of leaders included Maldon MP John Whittingdale, the director of Water and the Environment at Anglian Water Dr Robin Prince, climate acitivist Hattie Phillips and environmental campaigner Feargal Sharkey.

More than 140 residents attended the meeting.

John Whittingdale spoke about the need to support the community and businesses that rely on the Blackwater Estuary, Maldon Oysters and Maldon Salt.

He also addressed the importance of the river and estuary for wildlife and for residents engaging in leisure activities.

Dr Robin Prince, described the documented spillages in the water as “unacceptable”.

Anglian Water received a two-star rating from the Environmental Agency and has a five year investment plan to enhance the regions infrastructure, which is expected to cost £800 million.

He explained some of the challenges faced by Anglian Water such as the disposal of fats, oils, wet wipes and masks within the system continued to be a problem.

A representative from Maldon District Council said: “He confirmed that there had been 4 spills this year into the Blackwater due to increased rainfall, but he felt that this was 4 spills too many.

“Anglian Water will look to work with key individuals in the town to improve the quality of the water in the Blackwater.”

The Environmental Agency DEFRA failed to attend the meeting.

Councillor Andrew Lay said: “I am very disappointed. DEFRA are a public body, funded by taxpayers and should be answerable to the public. We would like to engage and hear from them”.

Feargal Sharkey addressed that he felt that “the water companies need to directly address now the serious issues that they face.”

He highlighted badly maintained pipework at many Anglian Water sites and addressed how events in Chelmsford, Braintree and Witham impact the water in Maldon.

The Town Council now look to work on the matters raised at the meeting and plan to hold a follow up meeting in the future.