Following the driest winter period in England and Wales since 1975/76, the year of the terrible drought, the Anglers’ Conservation Association (ACA) has issued a warning to those discharging effluents that they must take into account the low flows in rivers and streams into which they discharge. This adds to the warnings already issued by the Environment Agency.


Rivers with low flows, especially in the warmer summer months, tend to have naturally lower levels of dissolved oxygen. The problem for aquatic life comes when the addition of effluent from sewage works, food processing, farms or industrial premises causes yet further reductions in oxygen levels.


This leads to the death of fish and invertebrates. The effects can be catastrophic for a wide range of wildlife with some rivers taking many years to recover.


“Those who handle or discharge pollutants of whatever type in drought conditions must realise that the impact on wildlife is likely to be much greater than in high flows and colder weather.  We are asking everyone to be particularly careful this summer” said Mark Lloyd, Executive Director at the ACA.


The advice from the ACA on the low flow conditions also comes with a sharp warning:


“Polluters are put on notice that the ACA will pursue vigorously any fish kills that occur this summer. In these low flow conditions, licensed dischargers of effluent to our rivers must take care not to harm aquatic life. If they damage fisheries, they can expect to find themselves in court facing the ACA.” said Guy Linley-Adams, ACA Solicitor.


At any one time the ACA has 50-60 legal cases ongoing against polluters the length and breadth of the UK. These civil actions complement the criminal prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency. The ACA has won many millions of pounds in damages for angling and has forced many polluters to improve their performance. In its 57 year history the ACA has lost only three cases. For details of the ACA’s current cases  – see


In addition, the ACA has asked all those abstracting water from rivers and lakes to stick to their licence limits and to only abstract the bare minimum necessary. Fish cannot thrive in very low flow situations, with or without pollution.


We all have to stop wasting water and realise that, particularly in the more populated regions of the UK, there is a real limit to the volumes of water we can suck from our rivers and lakes every day.  People should take showers rather than baths, avoid unnecessarily washing their cars, and install water butts to water their gardens.” said Mark Lloyd.


– Ends –




England and Wales have had their driest November to March period in 30 years, Met Office figures reveal. The dry spell spanned two complete seasons across most of the UK with five consecutive months of below-average rainfall. Parts of central and south England had just 60% of their average rainfall. England‘s 12.8in (324.4mm) of rain made it the country’s driest November to March period since the one beginning in 1975, which saw 10.3in (260.5mm), and the 10th driest since 1914. (ref: Dry spell is ‘worst in 30 years’. BBC News Release 6th June 2005).