Diffuse Pollution – Tweed Forum

tforum_leaflet_2013_coverIn 1875 John Ruskin, when looking at the Teviot, said it was ‘oozing, not flowing between its wooded banks, a mere sluggish injection amongst pools of scum’. This was a reflection of the amount of contaminated fluids that the manufacturing industries of the day discharged directly into the river. We’ve come a long way since then and water quality is better now that has been for a long time.

Whilst great progress has been made in tackling direct sources, the impact of diffuse pollution (i.e. that not coming from single point) has become an increasing concern for those with an interest in the health of the river and the fish populations it supports.

Ploughing right up to the bank increases the risk of losing valuable land, soil and nuntrients into river. Fine sediment can fill up spawning gravels which can suffocate fish

Diffuse pollution is caused by a range of activities, and usually refers to the cumulative effect of pollutants, such as nutrients (fertilisers), chemicals (pesticides), faecal bacteria from livestock and soil, making their way into our watercourses due to inappropriate or inefficient management practices. It is more difficult to tackle as there is often no often no obvious ‘smoking gun’ and cumulative impact can add up to a big problem.


LifeLivestock can contribute to bank erosion and reduce water quality thus directly affecting the fish numbers.

Diffuse pollution from agriculture is a priority issue on Tweed. Tweed Forum works with farmers to fence off livestock and plant up riparian areas with native trees. This acts as a buffer between agriculture and the watercourse improving water quality, reducing fish mortality and improving the instream and riparian habitat. This in turn helps enhance fish numbers as there is more food and cover.

NB – if anglers see evidence of pollution they should contact SEPA on 01896 754797

Luke Comins

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