WEST Berkshire anglers are calling for urgent action to improve water quality on the renowned River Kennet.
The turbidity, or cloudiness, is caused by dirty canal water impacting on the famous chalk stream from Copse Lock at Hamstead Marshall and local groups fear that unless the Environment Agency and the Canal and Rivers Trust address the issue urgently, the river habitat will decline to a point where it will not be possible to distinguish between canal and river.
The coloured water has severely limited the growth of important plants which provide habitat for fish and invertebrates and has restricted fish populations.
The groups says that a management plan for the river is short on practical suggestions about action and funding and that a suggestion to separate the canal and river between Copse Lock and Newbury, which had an estimated price tag of up to £15m, is something unlikely to be pursued.
National campaigns coordinator for the Angling Trust, Martin Salter, said: “I have fished the Kennet nearly all my life and it is nothing short of tragic to witness the decline of a huge part of this once world famous fishing river. If we can put a man on the moon and send a space probe to Mars then I’m sure we can find a way of stopping the silt and sediment from the murky waters of the Kennet and Avon Canal from screwing up what should be a crystal clear chalk stream.
I hope that with the support of our local MP and our catchment host organisation Action for the River Kennet, we can get some impetus behind finding a resolution to this long running issue.”
The groups want all possible solutions examined and have teamed up with Newbury MP Richard Benyon to find an answer.
Mr Benyon said: “Water quality and turbidity issues below the Copse Lock have blighted a long stretch of the Kennet for many years. I firmly support the determination of all parties to resolve this matter. The Kennet is a special area of conservation, a site of special scientific interest and one of the most precious eco systems in the south of England. Action for the River Kennet, the Angling Trust, The Canal and Rivers Trust, The Environment Agency and Riparian owners are now all pulling in the same direction. We can and must succeed.”
In 2013 the Angling Trust, along with ARK, WWF and other partners, launched the Charter for Chalk Streams which sought greater protection for these iconic rivers. For more information visit www.anglingtrust.net/chalkstreamcharter .