A LEOMINSTER councillor is continuing to call for concerns about high phosphate levels in the River Lugg to be addressed.

Councillor Felicity Norman first raised the issue about water quality at an audit and governance committee – particularly about the county’s non-compliance with the Water Framework Directive and Habitat Directive.

She said phosphates in rivers come from diffuse agricultural pollution and discharges from sewage treatment plants while high phosphate levels cause serious damage to water ecosystems.

The issue was passed on to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee for investigation but Cllr Norman has not yet had confirmation that the issue is being pursued.

She said: “The problem is the very high levels of Soluble Reactive Phosphates (SRP) in our rivers, apparently being addressed by the creation of a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) but whether this is effective is a matter of concern, not just to myself but to others, including organisations such as the Wye and Usk Foundation and CPRE.

“The council gave permission for a large housing development at Marden a few months ago, without being advised that phosphate levels in the Lugg at that point were three times over the acceptable level. I understand they are now much higher.”

A Freedom of Information request carried out by a member of the public, showed that on February 2, 2016, phosphate levels at a point recorded as at the River Lugg at the confluence with the River Arrow, near Leominster, was 0.519 mg / l.

That is believed to be 20 times above the limit, set at 0.025mg/1 for that part of the river.

The reading for August 20, 2015, at the same location was 0.246, approximately 10 times the limit.

However, those who attended the River Wye Nutrient Management Plan Board’s meeting on Tuesday heard that spikes in the phosphate levels did not necessarily impact the average figure.

The target is an annual average and the spikes represented a single sample, the board heard.

Dane Broomfield, from the Environment Agency, said phosphate in the Lugg was also going down because of measures put in place by Welsh Water.

The water company also announced it is trialling new technologies which could help further reduce levels.

The Farm Herefordshire project is also working with farmers to share its key messages on soil management and to share advice.

However, Councillor Norman says she was also concerned that the council blocked a motion proposing a supplementary planning document on intensive livestock units.

“Unless managed very carefully [they] will contribute to the water quality problems we face,” she said.

“We were told this would be dealt with in the Mineral and Waste Plan, but as this is 18 months or more away I am not reassured.

“This issue poses threats to housing development, tourism, fishing, canoeing etc, increased costs to water purification, and possible costs involved in serious infraction proceedings.”