It Shouldn’t Be In The Dee!
The Welsh Dee Trust
The River Dee is an iconic river. It is protected as a Special Area of Conservation for its wildlife and provides drinking water for 2.5 million people. Unfortunately, the river is not in a healthy state—57% of its water bodies, including all those in the English Dee river basin, are failing to achieve ‘good’ status. The Dee & Llyn Tegid Special Area of Conservation is in an ‘unfavourable’ condition and Salmon populations are in rapid decline.
The Welsh Dee Trust, established in 1999 and incorporated as a charity in 2008, works to restore the River Dee for both wildlife and people. Despite our name, we serve the entire River Dee catchment across northern Wales and northwestern England, from its headwaters in Snowdonia National Park to the Dee Estuary between Wirral and Flintshire. We have already delivered a multitude of projects to restore the River Dee catchment which has included working with over 200 farms to reduce agricultural pollution and restore habitat. But the challenges to the river are many, varied and difficult to solve, and our work is not finished yet. Our latest programme, ‘It Shouldn’t be in the Dee’, aims to tackle one of these major environmental problems facing the English section of the Dee river basin: pollution.
Pollution is one of the biggest challenges faced by the River Dee and its tributaries. Without clean water, wildlife and local communities are severely affected. Pollution has many sources and pathways, including runoff from fields and roads which can transport sediment into rivers, smothering invertebrates and fish eggs on the river bed; failing private and public sewage treatment works can lead to excess nutrients in the river and algal blooms which can then remove oxygen from the water; plastic litter which can trap animals in the river and do the same if it washes out to sea; and incorrect plumbing in residential homes which can further add nutrients, detergents and other chemicals to the river. Pollution is a challenging problem which we are unable to solve alone.
With funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund we are creating an exciting community-led approach to finding and removing the sources of pollution and local problems for the water environment. Working with engaged individuals and local communities in Cheshire West, this may mean monitoring water quality at outfalls from sewage treatments works or run off from busy roads, identifying sources of plastic pollution from litter hotspots or getting involved in one of our many volunteer river clean-up days.
Throughout 2022 you will find us at events in Chester and across west Cheshire, organising river clean-ups and offering training opportunities in water quality monitoring through an exciting citizen science programme. Our volunteers are a vital part of our organisation, carrying out practical tasks that improve habitat and make the river a better place to be, and we are always looking for more volunteers. We are also keen to hear from any community-based groups interested in creating wetlands to clean water before it enters the river or implementing sustainable drainage in urban areas next to the River Dee—this could mean setting up a rain garden at your school, village hall, or community centre.
Join us so we can grow the number of people working towards a clean River Dee. Contact us via our website and sign-up to our volunteer mailing list to hear about opportunities to get involved.