The ‘Wild Woman of the Wye’, who can be seen swimming in the river every day, has said that she can “see and smell the pollutants first hand”.

This comes after concerns have been raised about the river turning green as a result of a rapid increase in algae.

Angela Jones, from Wild Swim Wye, is campaigning to raise awareness of the “demise of the River Wye” and to push for action to be taken to clean it up and “save our river”.

“For 35 years, the Wye has been my office, my playground and my life,” she said.

She has appeared in several TV documentaries and swims in the Wye all year round; and up to 40 hours a week throughout the summer months.

“I take people swimming and show them how to respect and appreciate what the Wye has to offer in a safe and controlled way. I teach them about the beauty above and below the surface while not impacting on the environment. They leave with respect and knowledge of this river,” Angela said.

“I cover over 86 miles of the majestic river Wye and much of my playtime is beneath the surface watching and appreciating the diversity and wildlife.

“I have been monitoring closely above and below the water over the past decades, and particularly the last five years have witnessed and seen an increase in farming pollution, slurry discharge, water extraction for irrigating farm fields, contamination from chemical crop sprays and industries, and even contamination from raw sewage entering the river after heavy rain.

“I see and taste the pollutants first hand. They starve this majestic river of its inherent goodness, causing loss of diversity and species, and in turn leading to decline of habitat for wildlife.”

Angela has said that other factors are affecting the river too.

“Climate change and increased water temperatures are lowering water levels, and extreme floods are also drastically affecting the wellbeing of our wonderful Wye.

“I’ve also witnessed a huge increase in plastic pollution, which comes from

businesses, tourists and locals, and is pitiful to see it clogging up the river.”

However, the campaigner has also highlighted the proliferation of algae, which the The Wye and Usk Foundation has already drawn attention too and claims is linked to manure from chicken farms.

She said: “Over the past three or four years I have witnessed an increase in green algae. There are now serious concerns over the permanently damaging effects these severe algal blooms are having on the ecology of this highly protected river. The proportion of phosphate in the Wye from agriculture has doubled in the past six years.

“The river is now failing its permitted levels of phosphate under the EU Habitats Directive.

“The Wye is being starved and strangled by our appalling lack of respect and greed.”

David Lee, North Powys Environment Team Leader for Natural Resources Wales said: “Rivers are the lifeblood of Wales and we know that people who live close to the Wye care very deeply about the river. We have that same passion and we are committed to protecting and improving the health of rivers across Wales - including the Wye.

“Our environment teams work regularly with businesses and organisations whose operations could impact on the Wye. We permit many businesses and organisations and put conditions in place to limit the risk of pollution in the river. We also advise others on how to avoid polluting their natural environment.

“We have recently announced that we are going to carry out a detailed review of data to better understand the causes of increased algal blooms in the river and to inform a plan to improve river health. That work has started in earnest.

“Water sampling data from the last 12 years is also being used to understand trends in water quality and to better understand the cause of the greater than usual algal blooms seen in the river.”