Environment Agency fisheries teams were forced to rescue stranded fish from the River Lathkill, as river levels started to recede four months earlier than usual.
A three km stretch of the River Lathkill regularly dries up in the summer as lower rainfall leads to the river flow disappearing through the limestone into nineteenth century mines running under the riverbed.
Last year was the driest in Midlands for over 90 years. The region has experienced two drier than average winters and this has caused the river to dry up much earlier than it usually would.
This drying up of the river makes it necessary to relocate the fish to an area downstream that flows all year. The rescue operation uses electric fishing equipment to lightly stun the fish, which can then be caught in a hand net and put into a tank of water with oxygen.
Alex Lumsdon, technical officer for the Environment Agency says “Generally this length of the river dries up between June and August and the water returns in October, but last year the flow didn’t return until mid December. Due to the river remaining dry until very late on last year, it appears that very few Brown Trout have migrated back upstream to spawn in the upper reaches of the River Latkill as they usually would.”
“We are concerned that the continuing dry weather may affect more wildlife, including fish and plant life in and around rivers and lakes. This is due to the reduced river flows and lower water levels in lakes and ponds. We are monitoring the situation closely and, like today, will act quickly to alleviate such problems if they occur.”
The Environment Agency is asking those enjoying the environment to keep a look out for problems such as fish gasping for air and to report any concerns to the incident hotline 0800 807060 (freephone, 24-hour service).