Mystery surrounds the cause of what is claimed to be the worst polluted stretch of water in Herefordshire. And the body that’s supposed to address the problem has yet to do so.

Friends of the River Wye volunteers regularly measure pollution at 150 sites in the river’s catchment on both sides of the border, while the group shares results from a further 200 testing spots.

And Holywell Dingle, a steep-sided, wooded brook between Eardisley and Kington, much of which is a nature reserve, bears the dubious honour of being by some way the worst.


“Levels there have been high since we started testing in May last year, and are now twice as bad as the next (watercourse) on the list,” according to the group’s citizen science coordinator Pat Stirling.

“When I went there last year, my dog took a lick of the water and was ill for three days,” he said. “There was ‘sewage fungus’ covering the riverbed for over a kilometre. We had never seen anything like it, and the smell was atrocious.”

Having asked the Environment Agency (EA) to look into the problem, it found a farm upstream had a leaky silage store, which was apparently fixed.

But since then the water quality has if anything worsened. “The phosphate level was ten times too high in February, by April hit a spike that was as high as we can measure, and it remains 20 times too high,” Mr Stirling said.


“There is a lot of run-off of some kind, but we don’t know what it is.”

Again the EA was notified, but “they have yet to investigate the stream itself, saying they don’t have the resources”, he explained.

The EA was asked to confirm this, but did not respond.

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It is now not within the group’s remit to investigate the farms upstream itself, Mr Stirling added.

The website of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the nature reserve, says the “well-oxygenated, pollution-free waters of the brook support a variety of aquatic life”.

A spokesperson for the trust said the pollution was “a real blow”.

“We hope the cause is investigated by the authorities as soon as possible,” they said.