Fish facing death in Welwyn Hatfield as oxygen levels plummet in river

PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 August 2013

Dead fish

Dead fish

Archant

FISH could be at risk after water oxygen levels became dangerously low in a river.

Experts from the Canal & River Trust joined the Environment Agency in helping suffering fish in the River Lea.

The trust said fish suffer in hot weather as the water temperature rises, reducing the amount of oxygen in the water.

The problem has been made worse this summer by storms that have brought surface water runoff – which can contain pollutants – into the waterway.

Fish need oxygen to breathe so the charity has been installing aerators and pumps that put more oxygen into the water.

But a spokeswoman said the rescue mission only provided “pockets of refuge” as its “impossible to aerate a whole river”.

Leela O’Dea, ecologist at Canal & River Trust, said: “The glorious weather is good news for people who’ve been praying for some summer sun but it’s not so welcome for some of the creatures that make their homes in our canals.

“The hot weather of recent weeks and the surface water runoff following the storms have depleted oxygen levels in the river and the fish have suffered.”

She added: “Our teams have been working closely with the Environment Agency, using aerators to get more oxygen into the water and make conditions better for the fish.

“We are asking people to help by letting the Environment Agency know as soon as they see fish struggling.

“We’d also ask people to check their household drains to make sure they’re properly connected so their waste doesn’t end up in the river when there’s a storm.”

The trust urged people to get in contact with the Environment Agency if they see fish in distress.

A spokeswoman said: “Signs to look out for include fish gasping for air or floating on the surface, unable to dive.”

■ People should call the Environment Agency on 0800 807 060.


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