Thousands of angling clubs, fishery owners and anglers are witnessing low river flows and water levels, which are threatening vital invertebrate life in rivers and fish stocks.
Angling Trust is calling on the Government, the Environment Agency and water companies to address the issue by developing long term sustainable management strategies for water resources.
Angling Trust and its legal arm Fish Legal have had reports from their members of problems on many rivers including the Eamont in the North West, the Teme in the West Midlands, the Usk in South Wales and the Teign in Devon. Most of the problems are caused by abstraction of water continuing as normal, in spite of the lowest spring and summer rainfall in a generation. The situation has even seen a hosepipe ban introduced in the North West, which is traditionally one of the wettest areas of the country.
Low flows impact severely on the ecology of rivers and make them much more vulnerable to pollution because there is less dilution of pollutants and warm water holds less oxygen. The reduced wetted area means that there is less space for invertebrates to live in, and therefore less food for fish.
The Trust is also demanding that the new Government takes on board the recommendations contained in the Blueprint for Water, which was developed by the Angling Trust’s predecessors and 15 other organisations nearly four years ago. The Blueprint set out a detailed strategy for tackling low flows and addressing water wastage:
• Reduce total consumption of water by 20% and from 180 litres per day per person to European average levels of 125 litres per day through education and metering.
• Tackle leakage in water company supply pipes.
• Introduce mandatory water efficiency standards in existing homes.
• Make all new-build homes water neutral in areas where water is scarce; developers would have to ensure that new water usage is offset by investment in efficiencies elsewhere.
• Amend or revoke damaging abstraction licences which damage river wildlife.
• Set out a plan for installing water meters in every home by 2020 to deter excessive use, with tariffs to protect vulnerable customers.
• Restore wetlands and halt development on floodplains to allow water to soak into the ground rather than disappear out to sea.
These measures would not only protect wildlife in our rivers, but they would also ensure security of supply for our growing population and reduce the significant energy use and carbon footprint involved in providing water.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “our members are fed up with seeing wildlife in the rivers they fish suffering as a result of a failure by Government, OFWAT, the Environment Agency and the Water Companies to develop coherent plans to reduce water use and wastage in the context of climate change and population growth. Rivers are vitally important for a whole host of wildlife and millions of anglers.”