Keepers make a stand against pollution of SSSI river

by Freddie Sandford |
Published on

A spate of sewage releases into a world-renowned river have driven river keepers and a host of other groups to publicly protest.

The River Test is famed across the globe for its trout fishing. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but despite its precious status, sewage discharges into the river have been witnessed regularly from Southern Water’s Fullerton wastewater treatment works.

Southern Water deny the spills, but large, suspended solids and macerated toilet paper have been seen tainting the Test’s usually crystal-clear water, with heavy fungus smothering the riverbed and plants.

Recent water samples have shown elevated levels of ammonia and phosphates, whilst invertebrate studies have shown a decline in the fly line pivotal to the river’s survival.

The campaigners – a coalition including the Hampshire River Keepers Association (HRKA), the Test & Itchen Association, Activist Anglers, the Angling Trust, Fish Legal and WildFish, are calling for immediate upgrades at the wastewater works, Ofwat intervention, and a ban on discharging surplus sewage.

James Buckley, a River Keeper of the HRKA, gave an impassioned speech at the demonstration outside the offending wastewater works.

“Today we face huge problems that will affect the future of this river and how it is looked after,” he said.

“The obvious pollution that Southern Water is dumping into the river is causing a massive threat to the health of the river and all wildlife that depends on it. It is clear to see and smell and trust me, it stinks at the exit of Fullerton outflow pipe.

“It also affects the river keepers of today and importantly the river keepers of the future. Lives and jobs depend on this river, and we all stand against the usage of it as an open sewer.”

Actor Jim Murray, Activist Angler, gave a powerful message to Southern Water, letting them know that angling and conservation groups will not lie down.

“We will not remain silent while our environment and livelihoods are abused,” he said

“Together, we have the power to bring about change, to protect our rivers, and to hold those responsible accountable.”

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