A year of testing for phosphates at Ross Angling Club.

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It has been a year since Trevor Hyde started testing the River Wye for phosphate. The results over that time have been a shocking revelation and an indictment on the failure of the Environment Agency/Natural Resources Wales to monitor and protect the River Wye from this level of pollution. The testing is done on behalf of the Ross Club and the Wye Salmon Association who sponsor the process by paying for both the testing devices and the reagent that is used weekly to get the results.

Water this colour is becoming an everyday occurrence on the Wye. Especially during hot weather.

Things have moved on a lot since last July when the weekly testing regime started. Trevor now tests at two locations one in the Riverside Park at the canoe launch, we in Ross Angling Club call this the Town Water which is above the main Ross on Wye Sewage Treatment plant.

The other testing point is downstream of the same Ross Sewage Treatment Plant on Ross AC’s stretch known as Weirend.

The thinking is to try and determine whether output from the sewage treatment works makes any difference to the quality (if that is the right phrase) of the water in the Wye below the STW. The testing at both locations is done one after the other on the same day.

I’ll split the testing results into two sets. Firstly the testing done at Weirend which started this year in May so only 12 tests have been carried out so far.

In the table below the lefthand column shows the number of tests done at Weirend. The middle column shows whether the sample was inside the permitted level or not. The third column shows that if the sample exceeded the permitted limit by how many times.

So you can see from the first line only 2 out of the 12 samples passed by being inside the legal permitted level for the Wye at Ross of 0.039mg/litre of river water.

Casting your eye down to the next row you’ll see that 3 samples taken at Weirend failed the test and exceeded the permitted level.

In the righthand column you’ll see that they were 4.9 times higher than the permitted level and so on down the table.

NUMBER
SAMPLES
INSIDE
LIMIT
EXCEEDING PERMITTED LIMIT
BY THIS NUMBER OF TIMES
2 YES
3 NO                                 4.9
2 NO                                  4.6
2 NO                                 4.4 
1 NO                                  3.8
1 NO                                3.6
1 NO 1.3

Turning to the samples taken in the Park at the canoe launch. The results are even more shocking because of both the number of samples that exceeded the permitted level but also magnitude of the failures in many instances.


54 samples were taken over the period 21st July 2020 to the 27th July this year of which only 6 were inside the permitted level the other 48 samples exceeded permitted levels and in the most extreme one sample was nearly 14 times higher than maximum permitted levels. Looking back at the day when this result was taken there is a note that there were thunderstorms in the area so conceivably a lot of phosphate from numerous sources was swept into the Wye on that day.

The table below is large and I was tempted to edit it but thought it would be better to reproduce the whole thing so members can see the full extent of the disaster that is happening on the River Wye.

NUMBER
SAMPLES.  
INSIDE
LIMIT
EXCEEDING PERMITTED LIMIT BY
THIS NUMBER OF TIMES
6 YES
1 NO 13.5
1 NO 7.4
3 NO  6.2
1 NO  5.9
1 NO  5.6
3 NO  5.4  
1 NO  4.8  
3 NO 4.6
1 NO  4.4
3 NO  4.1
3 NO  3.8
4 NO  3.6  
1 NO  3.3
3 NO 4
4 NO 3.7
3 NO 3.3
3 NO 2.3
3 NO 2.7
1 NO 2.1
2 NO  1.5  
1 NO 1.3
2 NO 1.0

In summary of 66 samples of River Wye water that were taken at the two locations only 8 were inside the permitted level for the River the other 58 EXCEEDED THE PERMITTED LEGAL LEVEL OF PHOSPHATE ALLOWED IN THE WYE.

Will the iconic Kingfisher become a thing of the past on the River Wye?

Many members will think that much of this does not concern them and they left things like graphs and tables and other data behind at school. However, and I don’t say this lightly, it must be understood that the River is experiencing pollution on a level that could mean the end of this magnificent River as we know it. This level of pollution is affecting everything in the River from the plants growing in it to the fish and the small creatures that they feed upon. The birds such as kingfishers, herons and swans who will have little to feed on.

Any insight or comment would be welcomed by Trevor on his email address barbarian18@live.co.uk

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