Afon Wygyr Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Project

In 2017 the North Wales Rivers Trust surveyed the habitat along the 10 largest rivers on Anglesey in the Anglesey Rivers Project funded by Anglesey Council’s AONB Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) (https://northwalesriverstrust.org/anglesey-rivers-project-from-source- to-sea/) . This survey identified that the River Wygyr, which enters the sea at Cemaes, was affected in some areas by trampling of the river banks by cattle using the river for drinking, causing large quantities of silt and organic matter to enter the river. This was affecting bankside and instream habitats for fish and other wildlife. In addition, investigations by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) into the reasons for the poor quality of the bathing water at Cemaes showed that bacteria from agricultural sources in the river was contributing to the poor quality of the bathing water in 2017. In 2018 the Trust was successful in obtaining funding from Anglesey County Council’s AONB SDF, NRW and Horizon Nuclear for a project to improve both the habitat and water quality on the River Wygyr.

Trampling of the riverbank by cattle
Weir restricting fish movement and flow
Weir after ‘notching’ to ease access and flow
There are also 18 small weirs in the lower river which are causing widening of the river channel, deposition of silt and acting as a partial barrier to sea trout and trout migration.

The wide, shallow pools formed behind these weirs are also likely to be a reservoir for bacteria which are then flushed out in pulses when river flows increase following rainfall. The Project commenced in July 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in December 2019. The work so far has focussed on the lower river catchment. Sites have been selected for monitoring by photographic records and river flylife monitoring by a trained volunteer and NRW. A restoration/management plan has been produced for the lower river which includes notching of several weirs and management of woody debris, overgrown willows and bankside/marginal vegetation and repair of stock-proof fencing. The aim of this work is to restore a more natural pattern of river flows to reduce silt and nutrient deposition, improve access for fish and improve ecological diversity and productivity. Stock proof fencing has been repaired and replaced in the lower river and an alternative borehole water supply to a series of drinking troughs is being installed to enable cattle to be completely kept out of the lower river. The Trust has also been working closely with NRW and their monitoring and improvement work on the river.

Volunteers from the Keep Wales Tidy AONB Team, Welsh Water and Anglesey Council have been helping with some of the management of woody debris, overgrown willows and in- channel reeds.

The quality of Cemaes Bathing Water improved from ‘poor’ in 2017 to ‘sufficient’ in 2018 probably due primarily to the hot dry summer causing less runoff from the land and higher die-off of bacteria from higher temperatures and levels of ultraviolet light. The work carried out to date was mainly after the end of the bathing water season so it is early days yet but

Reporting an environmental incident

To report an environmental incident such as suspected poaching, pollution or wildlife crime, the dumping of hazardous or industrial waste and illegal abstraction from watercourses etc, call Natural Resources Wales’ incident hotline on 0300 065 3000 (24 hour service).

Afonydd Cymru
The Rivers Trust
Natural Resources Wales
The Wild Trout Trust