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Moving on

Down from the confluence of the Windrush and the Dikler, we continued our walk which has become such a great way to get into the detail of what is happening to our river. The point of the photo above is that the life on the river bank was quite prolific and healthy whilst all that good stuff was going on, the water took on a different look.

It is quite depressing to see how the river downstream of Bourton on the Water is under such pressure. The weed that was once so lush and pro;ific is struggling to hang on and is often clogged with sediment and algae.

I have never walked a river and seen so few fish as when I have walked the Windrush, once described as like looking at an aquarium. When I did see them, they were mainly lone fish and not big. No shoals of dace or grayling. One or two small chub and very few fry in tthe margins.

Where are the big shoals of minnows? These 'canary' fish have been crying out with their absence and been ignored. It is hard to see a problem when something has just gone missing without turning up dead on the surface but where have they all gone?

The further we got from Bourton on the Water, the better the river seemed to get and by the time we arrived upstream of Burford there were some signs of recovery.

It was then that we got involved in a lot of new opportunities with testing for bacteria and the turbidity story.

The flat denial from the Environment Agency that there was any evidence of pollution was as bizarre as it was disappointing and as the news came that only 3% of rivers in the Thames Basin are in good environmental status, we knew we had to get to work to show the real state of our river. We have been working hard on that for several weeks now and have a lot to tell you.

Now our journey continues and we approach another hit of pollution from the Coombe Brook carrying sewage effluent from the Albion Water Sewage Works at Little Rissington into the Windrush at Taynton. Legal the pollution may be but it is still pollution and the state of the brook, which recently held grayling ( a recognised sensitive species ) is telling us that something is very wrong here. Maybe there is another source of pollution, or more than one that is responsible. We will have a good look at that on this tiny brook.

The more we know about the way the EA sets and monitors effluent standards, the less faith we have that legal means safe or healthy.

The Coombe Brook at Taynton. That is where we will start our next leg of the journey. We aim to end up in Witney around the time West Oxford District Council hosts its Water Day to discuss the pollution problems again.

22nd October - put it in your diary if you can - WASP will be lifting the lid on a lot of things that have been kept from your view.

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