A SEWAGE leak has caused environmental damage to a seven-mile stretch of the River Arun to the West of Horsham.
The incident was reported along the bank at Rudgwick near the bridge at Haven Road and the A281.
Teams of experts from the Environment Agency were called in on Wednesday.
Hundreds of fish had been killed by Thursday - the first day of the fishing season.
Local anglers are ‘devastated’.
The County Times website was first to break news of the Arun spill yesterday (Thursday) after a keen-eyed resident called the news desk to tip us off the the Environment Agency’s operation.
Officers worked through “the night to minimise the impact of a pollution incident on the River Arun”, which is having a toxic effect on fish.
Environment Agency Incident Response teams dosed the river with hydrogen peroxide throughout the night to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.
A spokesman for the agency said: “his is a major sewage pollution incident which has caused the death of a large number of fish and invertebrates.
“Our role is to reduce the impact and minimise the affect that this pollution incident is having on the River Arun.”
Specialist fisheries and environment officers have taken samples of water, dissolved oxygen levels, and ammonia and will continue to monitor the state of the river.
Aeration equipment was also deployed alongside Southern Water Services, who have set-up a second hydrogen peroxide dosing station at Gibbon’s Mill farm.
James Humphrys from the Environment Agency said: “We have worked through the night and are still on the ground assessing the impact of this incident. The source of the pollution has not yet been confirmed and we have launched a criminal investigation in to its cause, to establish whether an offence has been committed.”
High ammonia levels in water kill fish because it affects the way the gills handle oxygen. The symptoms are fish gasping for air, purple or red gills and red streaking on the fins or body. If ammonia levels are not reduced, then fish will die.
Members of the public can report pollution incidents by calling the Environment Agency’s emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
For a full report and reaction from local anglers see next week’s County Times.
River Arun fact-file:
The River Arun is the second fastest flowing river in the country and stretches 25.5 miles between the South coast and Pallingham.
It rises 120 metres above sea level from its source at St Leonard’s Forest near Horsham.
The river mouth was formed at Littlehampton between 1500 and 1530, but it originally joined at the River Adur at Lancing.
Due to England’s usual amount of heavy rainfall the River Arun has earned the reputation of a ‘flashy nature’.
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