‘Duggie’ stocked up again

Fish released into the River Douglas
Fish released into the River Douglas
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A WIGAN river has been brought back from the brink after a devastating pollution incident.

Anglers and environmentalists fought a 40-year battle to transform the River Douglas.

But three years ago the vast majority of coarse species in the Wigan stretches were wiped out after a massive and disheartening fish-kill.

A sewage pumping station breakdown combined with heavy rain causing a flash flood washed raw toilet effluent through emergency overflows into the waterway at Whelley.

The subsequent huge organic bloom of algae sucked the oxygen out of long parts of the river, suffocating any fish unfortunate enough to be caught up in it.

Outraged anglers called in watchdogs the Environment Agency who tracked the source of the fish kill back to the sewer overflows.

A resulting prosecution before Wigan magistrates saw water and waste water giant United Utilities heavily fined and ordered to pay £8,000 compensation for the damage to the fishery.

And this week the operation to return the Douglas to its former health was completed with the introduction of a further 5,000 juvenile fish behind the DW Stadium. This complemented 10,000 young fish introduced to the Douglas further up in Wigan before Christmas.

Wigan angling chief John Weedon said: “The new fish will grow on quickly and are very welcome. Despite the pollution and the fish kill in 2009, the Douglas seems to have a great future as a big chub river.”

Environment Agency fisheries officer Darren Wilson said: “The River Douglas supports an ever-improving fish population. Works to improve water quality, along with fish stocking has given rise to a thriving river.

“Following pollution incidents, fish have now been restocked to replenish those lost and populations further upstream have been boosted in order to further improve the River Douglas”.

Helen Wilson of United Utilities said: “Incidents like this are rare but we’re determined to put things right.”