River Nidd pollution: hopeful signs for fish and wildlife


Jun 10, 2021
Gouthwaite reservoir
Gouthwaite reservoir

Clean water is being pumped into the River Nidd amid hopeful signs that most fish survived last weekend’s category one major pollution incident.

A 12-mile stretch between Gouthwaite reservoir and Hampsthwaite turned chocolate brown on Saturday, prompting fears for the predominantly trout and grayling that inhabit the water and other forms of river life.

Yorkshire Water issued a statement on Sunday saying it had suspended safety work at Gouthwaite by its contractor Mott MacDonald Bentley, which it is thought may have stirred up huge quantities of silt.

River Nidd pollution

The River Nidd turned chocolate brown.

The company is excavating a trench as part of a long-term project to install a siphon at Gouthwaite dam to enable it to rapidly reduce water levels in an emergency.

Yorkshire Water has declined to comment since the weekend when asked by the Stray Ferret what action it has taken this week and whether it had conducted an environmental impact assessment before the project began.

John Shillcock, president of Nidderdale Angling Club, last night told the Stray Ferret he had heard from multiple sources Yorkshire Water has installed a pipe and was pumping in clean water from further up the reservoir and over the dam. He added:

“The river is much clearer and the cloudiness has passed on downstream.

“The Nidderdale AC secretary and I visited the river today and were much relieved to see that fish were rising and there was evidence of aquatic insect life.

“So this is good news for now, but Yorkshire Water have not made any attempt to let us or other interested parties know what measures they are intending to take to enable them to continue with the siphon installation without the same thing happening again.”

No fish deaths reported

The Stray Ferret asked the Environment Agency, which declared a category one major pollution incident, if it could clarify what action had been taken this week.

A spokesman said it was an ongoing investigation that would take a while to conclude and no further details were available. He added there were no reports of any fish deaths so far.

River Nidd pollution

The River Nidd last weekend.

Gouthwaite, which is three miles north of Pateley Bridge, is one of three reservoirs in upper Nidderdale, along with Scar House and Angram, which are further upstream.

The other two supply water but Gouthwaite was built to regulate the flow of the upper Nidd.

Gouthwaite is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty



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