More than half (52 per cent) the people questioned would not swim in their local river because they think it is too polluted.
This is the shocking finding from a survey carried out for the Blueprint for Water, a coalition of leading conservation groups, including Froglife.
The survey also found 97 per cent of people in England recognise that rivers, ponds, streams and lakes are a vital part of the countryside and 94 per cent of people often visit a stream, river or lake to relax or for leisure, but three-quarters feel that the water environment is at risk.
When asked, more that eight out of ten people agreed that the Government should be doing more to protect English lakes, streams, rivers and ponds, with pollution, over use of water, drought and climate change identified as some of the key threats.
Over the last two years the Blueprint for Water coalition has been urging the Government to take action to change the way we manage our water.
The coalition is calling upon the Government to make the most of the new legislation on floods and water expected this spring, as well as key decisions on water company investment and implementation of the Water Framework Directive, to protect water for the benefit of both people and wildlife across the UK.
The Blueprint for Water will publish their third document ‘2009 the time to act’ to coincide with World Water Day tomorrow (22 March).