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Thursday, July 13, 2023

Rotary invites expert to talk about state of River Dee


* People examine trays containing samples of Dee river water on display.

The Dee running through Llangollen isn’t one of the worst rivers in the UK when it comes to its natural habitat.

That was the message from a project officer for the independent charity which is working to identify problems with world-famous watercourse and come up with ways of solving them.

The year-old Vale of Llangollen Rotary Club has set up a series of monthly gatherings at which members of the local community are invited along to St Collen’s Community Hall to hear about and discuss issues of general interest.

* A live stone fly could be seen in one of the sample trays.

At yesterday evening’s session project officer Gareth Jones gave an insight into the work of the locally-based Welsh Dee Trust and its five-year strategy for protecting and improving the river.

He explained that the project began in August 2020 and had since done most of its work upstream near Corwen.

It had looked at areas such as moving livestock away from the river in a bid to reduce erosion of the banks – particularly by grazing cows – and improving the habitat in and around the water.

“We want to create a properly clean river and that means one that looks natural, with trees and twigs and so on visible in it,” he said.

He added: “Our findings so far are that there are far worse rivers than the Dee in terms of habitat, especially its upper catchment areas.

“Another of our aims is to remove barriers to the fish population and to change the attitude of landowners towards our work.

* One stage, Rotary club member Kurly Marwaha questions Welsh Dee Trust project officer Gareth Jones about its work. 

“When our project first started I think they were a bit unsure about what we were trying to do to improve things, such as fencing off the river to prevent erosion by livestock, but I believe they now have a better understanding of our work.”

Mr Jones explained that another aim of the project was to reduce pollution in the river from agricultural work nearby and he said that grants were available for landowners to help them achieve this.

The Welsh Dee Trust had special schemes to recruit local volunteers to help with their work and assisted with taking regular samples of river water and litter picking around the waterway.

The samples showed the number of invertebrates living in the river which, he said, was an indicator of its health.

He had set up a number of tables in the hall showing trays of samples of Dee water in which invertebrates such as stone flies and May flies could be seen wriggling amongst the grass and soil.

Asked by a questioner in the audience about the levels of invertebrates in the Dee Mr Jones said monitoring showed a general decline in their numbers which may be due to phosphates in the water.

Asked by another questioner whether leisure activities on the Dee such as kayaking, canoeing and paddle-boarding had any negative impact on the river, Mr Jones said: “They have no detrimental effect as far as we are concerned.”

* More details about the work of the Welsh Dee Trust can be found on its website at:

* Vale of Llangollen Rotary meets face-to-face in St Collen's Community Hall in Regent Street, Llangollen on Wednesday evenings at 7pm.

For more information, email: or see www.valeofllangollenrotary

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