The Wye River has been downgraded after experiencing the decline of important species such as Atlantic salmon and white crayfish.
Conservationists are concerned about Natural England’s updated adverse decline and say without urgent help and proper management, the river will never reach favorable conditions or recover. return.
Classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Wye begins in Wales and runs along the border with England to the mouth of the River Severn.
The Wildlife Trusts say it’s home to many intensive chicken farms and ranches on either side of the border, which, combined with wastewater pollution, has caused phosphate-induced algal blooms.
Algae blooms consume so much oxygen in the river that other life forms struggle to survive.
Natural England last assessed Wye and its tributary River Lugg in 2010 and out of seven reviewers found one to be favorable, the rest to recover unfavorably.
It says that because of the decline in salmon and crayfish, all assessment units must now be rated as unfavorable-declining.
Joan Edwards, director of public affairs at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The fact that Wye is in an even worse state than it is now should come as no surprise to those who love and live near it. .
“But this new admission represents a shocking failure by agencies and authorities in Wales and England who are supposed to protect this once beautiful river.
“Broader research shows that farm pollution is the main driver of its decline – which is why authorities must enforce the law wherever the cause of the pollution is obvious.
“It is time to stop the construction of more chicken coops and ensure that all farmers are rewarded for cleaner, nature-friendly methods of food production.”
The group is calling for a halt to any new extended intensive livestock production units in the Wye Basin, releasing all water data held by Natural Resources Wales, the Environment Agency and local authorities, while encouraging farmers to work more sustainably to reduce pollution.
Jamie Audsley, chief executive of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Current methods have failed to keep the River Wye in healthy condition.
“What we need to see now is an intergovernmental plan to get Wye back on track.
“Wye should be a river where salmon and otters thrive and people can swim safely.
“The plan will need to involve government, regulators, farm businesses and others, and ensure a consistent approach across England and Wales.”
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey met farmers, conservationists and local officials in the Wye Basin on Tuesday to discuss pollution.
She says she wants to double down on funding for mud infrastructure and for a plan that gives direct advice to farmers on how to reduce water and air pollution, as well as develop the workforce. the Environment Agency’s agricultural regulation labor and pay farmers for sustainable work.
After chairing a roundtable discussion, she said: “The Wye is clearly in trouble and it’s important that we turn the tide as it declines.
“As I set out in my Water Plan, we need local plans by basin, by community, to address the issues that are affecting water quality.
“Bringing together people from local communities, it is clear that we have a common goal.
“We all need to work together with greater speed and purpose to actively support our farmers and food producers to produce sustainable food and reduce pollution.
“With the River Wye rising in Wales, it is important to work with the Welsh Government on this and I welcome them to my roundtable today.”