A FISHING club in Winsford is harnessing the energy of its youth members to help tackle sewage and other pollution in rivers.  

Winsford and District Angling Association (WDAA) is training its junior section to carry out water quality testing on the Rivers Dane and Weaver.

The aim is to establish a solid foundation of data on the rivers’ health, monitor changes in pollution levels, and raise awareness of the broader issues affecting water quality.

The water testing kits were supplied by the Angling Trust’s Water Quality Monitoring Network and were funded with a grant from United Utilities (UU) Better Rivers Fund.

Young development team coach, Gareth Evans, said: “Young people are much more aware of environmental issues than when we were growing up. 

"The plan for the kits is to get the kids involved in testing the water. They can see what’s going and how it affects the fishing and everything else.

“We have 150 young anglers between the ages of five and 20 from Winsford, Northwich, and Middlewich, which makes us the second biggest junior section in the country.

“We’re also a fully inclusive club with two of our coaches experienced in working with children with special educational needs. Being out and about in the fresh air means fishing has huge benefits for mental health."

“I think this is a brilliant thing for us to get the young people involved.”

The youngsters will be testing for nitrates and phosphates from sources such as sewage outflows, as well as ammonia from agricultural slurry run-off.

They’ll also be collecting data on water temperature and conductivity, and noting their visual observations, all of which will be uploaded in situ to the Water Quality Monitoring Network's app.  

Chairman of WDAA, Bert Reid, said: “Our club fishes the rivers Weaver and the Dane - both full of wildlife and fish, and we want to keep it that way. The work that we are doing now will hopefully improve things for the future.

“The Better Rivers Fund is a great idea. I’m just glad UU are prepared to invest in the rivers and in the volunteers involved.

“If more clubs throughout the country recruited more volunteers and engaged with the scheme, I’m quite sure we’d make an impact.”

Emma Birch, stakeholder engagement manager for Cheshire at UU, said: “We are delighted to support Winsford Anglers with the Better Rivers Fund and to hear about the great work being done with children and young people."