2023 Year of Shame for phosphate pollution at Ross on Wye AC.
Club News

2023 Year of Shame for phosphate pollution at Ross on Wye AC.


2023 year of shame as phosphate pollution maintains deadly grip on the river Wye

Over 88 per cent of water quality tests in 2023 failed to meet national standards

21 November 2023 pollution level beyond the range of the measuring device

Deadly phosphate pollution maintained its toxic presence in the river Wye around Ross-on-Wye throughout 2023, including occasions when test results exceeded national maximum levels by as much as 64 and 54 times. In November 2023, one water sample was so extreme that it could not be measured by the testing equipment.

The shocking test data is contained in the results of 44 weeks of phosphate tests carried out throughout 2023, on behalf of Ross-on-Wye Angling Club and released at the club’s AGM held this week .

Over the course of the year, over 88 per cent of the results obtained by Club member and citizen scientist, Trevor Hyde, exceeded the maximum level for phosphate content of 0.039 mg/l. This means that only 11 per cent of readings fell within the permitted standard.
The two locations used for monitoring were the Canoe Launch in the riverside Park in Ross, and the Salmon Hut at Weirend, below the sewage treatment works.

Testing in the Park produced 39 of 44 tests above maximum levels (88.6%), with six of those results being ten times or more above the accepted standard. One result produced a staggering reading of 64 times the maximum.

At the Weirend location, 4 of the 39 failed tests were 10 times or more in excess, including two truly horrific results; on 8 January 2023 the reading was 54 times above the 0.039 mg/l level, but even that was eclipsed on 21 November 2023, when the phosphate level in the formerly pristine waters of the river was beyond the range of the monitoring device!

“It’s heartbreaking to see the devastating consequences of unchecked phosphate pollution in our beloved river Wye,” said Rob Leather, chairman of Ross-on-Wye Angling Club. “Trevor’s tireless and devoted work proves yet again that despite the massively increased awareness of the problem, nothing of substance has yet been done to adequately address the root causes of agricultural waste and sewage entering the river.”

“As an angling club we remain totally committed to playing our part in fighting for the restoration of this magnificent river, and we will use all the resources at our disposal to achieve that” he said.

Trevor Hyde, a former chairman and now Honorary Member of Ross-on-Wye Angling Club, has been testing the phosphate levels in the Wye for almost four years. During that period the contamination levels have continued to climb, placing an unsustainable burden on the ecology of the river, once famed for the purity of its water and the prolific annual run of Atlantic salmon.
Tragically, and perhaps irrevocably, the salmon is now an infrequent visitor to the five miles of the Wye controlled by the Club. In the 2023/24 fishing season only 4 salmon were caught and released by club members, a devastating decline replicated throughout the entire river, where the total was the lowest ever at under 250 fish.