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Fears over impact of slurry contamination on River Ribble wildlife
WILDLIFE in the River Ribble is under threat by pollution from untreated farm slurry, it has been claimed.
Animal fertilisers washed into the river by heavy rain uses oxygen in decomposition, leading fish to suffocate.
Grant Hinks, pollution officer for the Ribble Fisheries Consultative, said: “Green and brown water that smelled of slurry was gushing down a bank in Mitton for at least 24 hours and it contaminated the river for many miles. It was completely unfishable and the loss to the local economy isn’t to be sniffed at, anglers pay a fair amount to do it.”
Ron Freethy, a retired ecologist who specialised in water pollution, of Roughlee, said: “We have the technology to stop it, it just isn’t cheap.”
“Farms could use an intermediary sewage sys-tem, which I have seen work very well in Canada and Australia.”
This type of pollution is worse in parts of Britain where there are more cattle, but as the Ribble is flat and slow-moving, slurry can become trapped and badly affect sections of the river.
Dr Freethy said: “It can decimate fish like trout, as they are territorial, so they won’t move away from their patch even if it means they’ll die.”
Fish found in the Ribble
- Atlantic Salmon – the Ribble is a key breeding ground for this endangered species
- Sea Trout – similar to salmon to look at but smaller and run the river at nightBrown Trout – darker in colour than sea trout but interbreed with them
- Grayling – known as the ‘lady in the stream’ for their iridescent purple stripes
- European Eel – snake-like fish with pectoral, dorsal and tail fins