Wild swimmer Angela Jones, known as the ‘Wild Woman of the Wye’, has launched her latest effort to raise awareness of the dramatic decline of the River Wye and call for urgent action to save this iconic river, which stands on the brink of ecological collapse.
Angela Jones entered the waters of the Wye at Hereford on Saturday 25th June, towing a large model eggbox, in recognition of the role of intensive poultry production in the destruction of this river (see attached photo – please credit Stuart Pearce).
According to research from Natural Resources Wales, over 60% of the River Wye catchment is failing to meet pollution targets. The rapidly declining ecological health of the River Wye is widely believed to be linked to the rapid growth of the intensive poultry industry in the catchment.
More than 20 million chickens are now being reared in the Wye catchment. The thousands of tons of chicken manure spread across land within the catchment each year, as well as the run-off from free range egg farms directly into watercourses, are believed to be the cause of the massively excessive phosphate levels recorded across the River Wye system. Excessive phosphate levels drive the formation of ‘algal blooms’ which suffocate river life. Cover of the infamous mats of Ranunculus white flowers, or water crowfoot, is estimated to have fallen by over 90%.
Angela Jones said: “The time for talking is over. We are on a cliff edge. Urgent action is now required and if it is not implemented this year then we can wave goodbye to the Wye, the nation’s favourite river.”