Low river levels in the River Usk 'risking fish'

The River Usk at Caerleon The River Usk flows from Carmarthenshire, through Powys to Newport

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Low water levels in rivers are threatening wildlife and fish stocks, anglers are warning.

They claim water companies are continuing to take supplies from rivers despite the lowest spring and summer rainfall in decades.

The Angling Trust said the River Usk, which flows from mid to south Wales, is causing members particular concern with salmon levels lower than average.

Welsh Water said it is operating "well within" the levels for removing water.

The trust said that low river flows "impact severely" on the ecology of rivers and make them much more vulnerable to pollution because there is less dilution of pollutants.

"The reduced wetted area means that there is less space for invertebrates to live in, and therefore less food for fish," it added.

The trust is calling on the government, the Environment Agency and water companies to improve river levels by developing long term plans to manage water resources and stop wastage.

It also wants them to reduce water consumption by 20%, tackle water companies' leaking water supply pipes and set out a plan for installing water meters in every home by 2020.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, said its members were "fed up" with seeing wildlife in the rivers they fish suffering as a result of a failure to develop a plan to reduce water use and wastage.

"Rivers are vitally important for a whole host of wildlife and millions of anglers," he added.

Start Quote

We all need to realise that water is a precious resource ”

End Quote Spokesman Environment Agency Wales

Environment Agency Wales said it launched a plan last year at the request of the Welsh Assembly Government which addresses many of the issues highlighted by the Angling Trust.

It is also reviewing the abstraction licences needed by companies to remove water from rivers - which is done to maintain water supply to customers - to assess the environmental damage that they may cause.

An Environment Agency Wales spokesman said: "More people are using more water. We all need to realise that water is a precious resource.

"Every drop we use comes from our rivers and lakes. We have to balance our need with that of the environment and the animals and plants that need it too."

A spokesman for Welsh Water said: "The volume of water which Welsh Water is able to abstract from rivers is controlled by Environment Agency Wales and we continue to operate well within these operating levels.

"While we are entitled to abstract 400 million litres per day from the River Usk, we are currently only abstracting around 20% of this amount as we reduce our abstraction as the river level falls.

"The early spring and summer has been the UK's driest for 80 years, but with the support of the public, water resources in this area should last for the remainder of the summer.

"We have increased our leakage repair activity and are reminding customers to use water wisely. Our message is, use all the water you need, but please don't waste it."

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