Massive volunteer response to save the River Wye

Avatar for Dilys Merry
By Dilys Merry
14th September 2021

Hundreds of Herefordshire residents have shown they’re just as concerned about the dreadful state of our River Wye as we are, by signing up to become citizen scientists. We’re delighted to welcome volunteers from all walks of life and experience – with an age range from 20 to 86 so far!

Why are we doing this?

Last summer and this, we’ve seen the river turn into a green soup as phosphate pollution has boosted algal blooms.  These slimy blooms go on to smother the beds of Water Crowfoot which support diverse populations of water life.  They also carpet the gravel beds where fish normally lay their eggs, cutting off their oxygen supply.

We’ve teamed up with scientists from Cardiff University and our citizen scientists will be providing them with weekly data from all over Herefordshire. This will pinpoint the sources of phosphate and other pollutants in the Wye. We’ll be sampling both small streams and the larger rivers to get these important measurements.

Cutbacks to the Environment Agency budget mean they are unable to test as widely as is needed, which is why it’s excellent news that so many local people want to step up to defend their river.

Ready to roll…

We’ve got a whopping 424 people in the project and are currently mapping the catchment to achieve the widest coverage we can. Several Parish Councils are on board too!

Training by Rod Hawnt (a retired hydrologist) and our very own Andrew McRobb has already started to get useful data coming in as soon as possible.

Measurements in Wales by volunteers of Friends of the Upper Wye are already beginning to highlight the worst sources of pollution – though none of the data is cheering.  Concerned citizens are also coming together lower down the Wye to make this a massive monitoring project.

Interested? You can join here!

Three scientists taking a water sample