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Water testing by anglers inspires local campaign to clean-up polluted river

A Cheshire angling club has launched a local campaign to clean up the River Bollin following Water Quality Monitoring Network (WQMN) tests they carried out as part of the Angling Trust’s Anglers Against Pollution initiative.

The Angling Trust’s Anglers Against Pollution campaign seeks to give anglers a voice in the fight for a better future for our environment by holding the government to account for its promises, its actions, and its responsibilities. Here at Orvis UK, we are showing our commitment to protecting our environment by donating 100% of the profits from the sale of our Anglers Against Pollution caps to the campaign.

The WQMN was launched in May as part of the Angling Trust’s Anglers Against Pollution campaign to engage angling clubs in better understanding pollution issues on their waters. Test findings help the Angling Trust hold the government to account, ensuring it lives up to its rhetoric on improving our environment and meeting its own legal responsibilities, and support local initiatives to improve our rivers.

Kris Kent, Angling Trust Campaigns & Advocacy Manager who leads on the WQMN project, said “The response to the Water Quality Monitoring Network project has been fantastic from clubs all over the country. The initial pilot project on the River Severn was rolled out nationally in July and we already have over 200 volunteers from 87 clubs signed up with the Trust to take and test regular water quality samples using equipment supplied through the scheme.”

Members of the Mottram St. Andrew Fly Fishing Club carrying out Water Quality Monitoring Network tests on the River Bollin

The tests conducted by members of Mottram St. Andrew Fly Fishing Club, founded and chaired by Grayling Society Conservation Officer Ron Taylor, have provided evidence that there was heavy pollution of the Bollin.

United Utilities’ Prestbury Water Treatment Plant is immediately above the club’s stretch of the river and has regularly been seen discharging raw sewage through storm overflows. The company admitted there had been 114 spillages in 2021 and 34 so far this year up to 13 September.

The stretch of water was home to a good head of trout and chub, but the club says few are now caught and algal growth can clearly be seen along the bed of the river.

The club involved the Parish Council and enlisted the support of Macclesfield MP David Rutley who helped arrange a tour of the treatment plant to try to understand why discharges were being allowed to continue.

David Rutley also visited the site himself and both visits highlighted decisions made by United Utilities which were restricting improvement of the situation. The club has now written to the United Utilities CEO requesting a meeting to discuss improvements where inadequacies had been exposed. This will take place this November.

An article advising the public of the high levels of phosphate and nitrate in the Bollin has also been published by the local newspaper warning people to stay out of the water.

John Cheyne of the Angling Trust, said "The water quality monitoring conducted by members of Mottram St. Andrew Fly Fishing Club, is a perfect example of how our Anglers Against Pollution campaign is working at a grassroots level. By signing up to our monitoring campaign and then raising the pollution issues with their local MP and water company, they are now making the right people listen and improvements are hopefully on the way. Without The financial support we received from Orvis last year, our monitoring initiative could never have been launched and this powerful tool for change wouldn't be in the hands of anglers, all around the country. Our thanks go to everyone at Orvis for their continued commitment to help us fight pollution and support our wonderful sport.”

Club Chair Ron Taylor said “The Water Quality Monitoring Network and the results produced have been the catalyst for improvement, providing evidence to rely upon. The Angling Trust, assisted by the Grayling Society, has provided the opportunity for all angling clubs in England and Wales to become involved in testing their own waters and pursuing their own campaigns based on the results.”

The Angling Trust is a not for profit organisation, representing anglers, fighting for fish, fishing and the environment. Recognised by the Government as the National Governing Body for angling in England and partner with Visit Wales and Natural Resources Wales to promote Fishing in Wales. Angling Trust are a member-based organisation made up of anglers of all disciplines providing a united front to represent, grow and protect our sport. Find out more information about Angling Trust membership.

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