Protecting the Wye

This page provides a chronology of the development of the pollution crisis in the River Wye and collects certain key documents published by many organisations on the issue.

Please suggest possible additions or amendments using the comment box below

Key issues:

Phosphates discharge to water courses from agriculture and sewage treatment works, excess phosphate build up in soils.
Compaction of agricultural soils leading to excessive run off in heavy rain (together with hard landscaping in the built environment)

Time line

2023 -

May 30th - Natural England updated the status of the river from “unfavourable-improving” to “unfavourable-declining”, meaning its condition is poor – and worsening. The River has experienced declines in key species such as the Atlantic salmon and white-clawed crayfish. See Article in The Guardian
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey met local farmers, councillors, environmental groups, MPs and the Welsh government in Hereford to discuss actions to improve the state of the River Wye. - See Government statement here

April - Environment Agency published latest of bi-annual reports on Wye River Quality - the Q3 2022/23, Q1 2022/23 and previous reports are available here

January - Avara publish "Roadmap" for reducing phosphate pollution from poultry units

2022 - Increased public awareness of the state of the River Wye and Usk
May 2022: - Lancaster University publish the RePhoKUs report documenting the status of phosphate pollution
Summit on state of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) Rivers, including the Wye, by First Minister Mark Drakeford at the Welsh Show - report here
Summer: Record low levels of water in the Wye 
November: Public Meeting Monmouth on Saving the Wye organised by Rotary Monmouth and Friends of the Lower Wye

2021 -The River Wye Nutrient Management Board published Phosphate Action Plan.

Feb 2020 Storm Dennis, repeated flooding high, but not extreme, rainfall events
2020 Development restriction in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire due to lack of water treatment facilities for phosphates in sewage treatment works

2018 Very dry spring, Welsh government change farming subsidies to encourage browsing turnips as sillage/hay crop failed leading to increased winter stocking of sheep. Water crowfoot die back with loss of invertebrate habitat

2017 and following years: Algal blooms start to get worse and extend above Hereford for the first time

2015 all apparently going well with the rivers
Winter 2015/6 high water temperature, very low salmon spawning success

November 2014 River Wye Nutrient Management Plan published and Nutrient Management Board established chaired by Herefordshire County Council Documents from 2022 are published here  

Welsh Government guidance evolves to encourage development of intensive chicken farming, planners prefer the sheds at low level, near to streams, to reduce visibility.

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Related pages...

Winter sunset over the River Wye at Brockweir

The Wye - Working Together

more The Environmental Agency and Natural Resources Wales gave a joint presentation on their activities to get the River Wye back to full health. Charles Taylor of River Action followed with a more general description of the state of our rivers

Audience at the meeting

The River Wye - Meeting Nov 25th 2022

more The evening was organised in partnership with the Friends of the Lower Wye Presentations made on the evening - not for public circulation and subsequent documents of interest

back to page above this...

River Wye in the Spring

The Environment

back An Area of Focus for Rotary and Rotary Monmouth. Concern about the state of the River Wye is one area of activity