WITH predictions suggesting there are only two years left to save the stunning River Wye from extinction, a series of action is taking place this weekend.

Simon Evans, the chief executive of the Wye and Usk Foundation, revealed in February that he fears there are only two years before the River Wye passes a point of no return and the whole web of life in the river collapses.

This was his message to a meeting of the Wye Nutrient Management Board (NMB), which brought together politicians, regulators, farmers and businesses to address the river’s worsening pollution problem.

SaveTheWye, a network that unites the many organisations, charities and individuals who care for the river, is coordinating WyeJuly this month to focus attention on the unfolding ecological disaster.

Last weekend the group staged a ‘Bridges Over Troubled Waters’ campaign during which they unfurled banners from 28 bridges along the Wye, from Llanstephan in Powys, to Chepstow and along the River Lugg too, which straddles Powys and Herefordshire.

This weekend, from July 9-11, WyeJuly events will take place in Hay-on-Wye, as well as Leominster, Hereford and Monmouth; this will include talks, discussions, family activities and the chance to talk to citizen scientists.

SaveTheWye are mainly ordinary citizens across the region, keen to take action to say that they will not simply stand by why their rivers are being killed in front of their eyes.


Rachel Bomford, from Friends of the Lower Wye which is organising an event in Monmouth, said: “As George Monbiot said recently, ‘the Wye isn’t dying – it is being killed’.

"Killed by a fatal combination of run-off from hundreds of industrial poultry units (IPUs), the widespread loss of soil into the rivers because of changes in agriculture and the persistent disregard of the regulations by water companies who continue to discharge raw sewage into the rivers.

“We are demanding that the governments in Westminster and Cardiff take immediate, meaningful action to prevent further degradation of the Wye and its tributaries.”

In July 2021, a month-long pilgrimage the length of the Wye highlighted the emergency that the river was facing. It was people power in action, resulting in major news coverage and bringing politicians and others to the table to start talking about how to tackle the impending disaster. However, since then progress has been too slow and the health of the Wye and its tributaries has declined to such a degree that, in May, Mr Evans made his stark declaration.

Kate Bull, a keen open water swimmer and co-founder of SaveTheWye, explained how people can help their river. “SaveTheWye is highlighting three easy things that anyone can do. Firstly – love your river Tell everyone you know about how important the river is to you; spread the word about the ecological emergency it is facing and post your own photos of it using our hashtags.

“Secondly, contact your MP now to demand that no more planning permissions are granted for any new or extended Industrial Poultry Units (IPUs), or any other industrial-scale livestock units, across the whole Wye catchment.

“Thirdly, become an earth protector and support the petition to make ecocide an international crime at www.stopecocide.earth.”

For the latest event details and all the hashtags to add to your social media posts, as well as to find out all about this weekend’s events, go to www.fouw.org.uk/wyejuly.