CAMPAIGNERS calling for improved water quality in the nation's rivers have sent a letter to the first minister after completing a pilgrimage along the Wye.

Walking with The Wye, a month-long pilgrimage along the length of the River Wye from its source in Plynlimon in mid-Wales, reached its end at the point where it empties into the Severn Estuary this weekend.

Organised by a small group of concerned citizens up and down the Wye, the pilgrimage aims to celebrate the 'nation's favourite river' and raise awareness of the environmental destruction it is facing.

Now, the group have protested outside the Senedd about the significant demise of the River Wye.

They want the Welsh government to urgently stop the river’s "significant deterioration".

Wild swimmer Angela Jones, who took to the water of the river with a coffin symbolising its death, said: "I want to draw attention to the diabolical way we are destroying the Wye through pollution, and a coffin seems fitting, as it’s bereavement on a huge scale and pains me to the core.”

In a letter to Mark Drakeford, the group write: “There is little doubt that River Wye is dying – there are significantly less fish, far less birds with many swans not nesting, almost all the precious water crowfoot has died - a protected plant and key part of the food chain.

"Everyone is seeing it and now the people want answers. From the River Wye’s source in the Welsh Mountains to the Severn Estuary local people – swimmers, fishermen, canoeists, naturalists, artists, walkers and anglers have seen a drastic downward change.
"We want the governments to improve the health of the river, both for the safety of the people who swim in it, including young children, and to protect the environment in and around the water.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Protecting and enhancing our water environment is a priority for this government and we welcome local communities and support groups campaigning to improve and maintain the health of rivers in Wales.     

“Resilient rivers are essential for enhancing biodiversity, enabling more recreational use and securing wider benefits to society and our economy and the control of agricultural pollution regulations introduced in April were specifically designed to reduce nutrient pollution and improve water quality.

“This year alone, we are investing nearly £10m to improve water quality. In addition, the Welsh Government has made available £16.5m to farmers through our support schemes during 2021.

“We’re continuing to work closely with partners, including the farming sector, to tackle water quality issues in Wales’ nine Special Area of Conservation rivers, including the Wye and Usk, and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales’ work to assess pollutant levels and identify the necessary remedial action is well under way.”