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Serious water pollution has decreased in England and Wales, according to a report published by the Environment Agency yesterday. For the third year in a row, the number of serious incidents dropped significantly in 1995. Last year there was a drop of 13 per cent in the number of serious pollution incidents, and between 1990 and 1995 there was a 70 per cent drop.

The Environment Agency took over the responsibilities of its predecessors - the National Rivers Authority, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution and the Waste Regulation Authorities - in April.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the report, but a spokesman, Roger Lilley, said: "There are a still a number of serious concerns about the purity of water in our rivers and the health of a great many of our rivers is in question."