Polluted River Coly ‘could take two years to recover’

PUBLISHED: 07:58 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:16 14 May 2020

An Environment Agency officer at the pollution site. Picture: EA

An Environment Agency officer at the pollution site. Picture: EA

Archant

At least 400 fish died in last week’s major river pollution incident near Colyton, officials have confirmed.

The frothing River Coly following contamination of the waterway Picture: Richard BenfordThe frothing River Coly following contamination of the waterway Picture: Richard Benford

Around 100,000 litres of slurry escaped from a farm storage tank and entered the Southleigh Stream, a tributary of the River Coly and River Axe.

Environment Agency officers were called to the scene and have been investigating the extent of the damage.

A spokesman told The Midweek Herald: “We have surveyed the fish and invertebrates in Southleigh Stream and the River Coly and are now comparing the results to previous monitoring data to assess what the impact is.

“At least 400 fish have been killed, but the actual figure is likely to be higher.”

Colyton district councillor Paul Arnott has said no one should go into the river Coly at the moment - including pets.

Writing on social media he said: “The Environment Agency has confirmed today that long stretches of the river are still part of an ongoing Category One pollution incident.

“This is especially bad in the stretch as far as Umborne Bridge, but beyond that down past the playing fields, too.

“Their prediction is that it will be two years before the river will be cleared and before that it will be unsustainable for migrating fish.

“The river is contaminated with pathogens and algae growth you would not want your kids or pets to be splashing about in.

“It may look clear in sections, but these elements are still present.

“It’s a genuine risk to public health.

“It is now down to East Devon District Council to arrange suitable advisory signs to that effect which will be done as soon as possible.

“Luckily the tidal flow when it gets to the Axe will clear that away reasonably soon, and there is unlikely to be an effect as I understand it on the Colyford and Seaton Wetlands.”


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