ROSS-ON-WYE anglers say their “citizen science” shows the poor year-round state of the river Wye due to one of the main forms of water pollution, which has been linked to declines in salmon and other wildlife.

Trevor Hyde, a trustee and former chairman of Ross-On-Wye Angling Club, has now taken 54 weekly water samples from the river in the town’s Riverside Park.

These show that over the year, levels of phosphate were higher than the national permitted maximum in 48 of the samples – nearly nine out of ten – indicating the problem is year-round.

Of these, 21 exceeded the maximum level by five times or more, with the worst result almost 18 times over the limit.


According to the Environment Agency, phosphorus, largely in the form of phosphates, is the main cause of eutrophication, or nutrient overload, in UK rivers.

The main source of this is sewage effluent, mostly from water industry treatment works, and runoff from farmland, it says.

“I’ve been genuinely shocked by what I’ve seen with my own eyes over the past 12 months,” Mr Hyde said.

“We are witnessing a complete failure by the water authorities in England and Wales, and central government, to recognise the scale of the problem and take the urgent action required.”

Club members say only two salmon have been landed and returned to the river locally since the season opened in March.

They have meanwhile seen dead salmon and other fish during the recent warm dry spell, coinciding with a widespread “algal bloom” on the river.

The club’s current chairman Rob Leather said: “There is now a strong body of citizen science evidence that makes a compelling case for immediate intervention and action by the authorities, to save this magnificent river from terminal decline.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are aware there is more work to do and we are hard at work alongside our key catchment partners to implement a range of interventions to tackle the sources of pollution in our rivers.”

He added: “We are targeting regulatory activity towards high-risk activities and areas, such as sloping fields with bare soil, and at locations where we have records of previous pollution incidents.”

Meanwhile, posting photos this week of the Wye looking pea-soup green from above, local angler Adam Fisher tweeted: “I reckon I’ve spent more time next to or in the Wye than anyone over the last 20 years, in all seasons and weathers. It’s looking worse than I’ve ever seen it.”