Anyone visiting the River Teifi this springtime should have reason to applaud the work of Llandysul Paddlers Canoe Club.
The beauty of the river and its surroundings was under threat at the start of this year as pollution and debris suggested illegal dumping higher up-stream from the village of Llandysul in Ceredigion.
That prompted canoe club members to explore the source of the problem and they soon discovered tonnes of black silage wrap had spewed their contents into the river.
Keen to protect their waterway – and mindful of their role in looking after the environment – the Llandysul canoeists organised their own clean-up, having alerted the river authorities to the damage.
Three big energy-sapping clean-up sessions later – which involved filling empty canoes and rafts with the debris and towing it all away – the club have so far removed over 10-tonnes of waste.
“We started in February and began with three Saturday clean-up sessions,” says Gareth Bryant, centre manager of Llandysul Paddlers.
“A lot of volunteers turned out to help us – there must have been around 50 people at one of the sessions – and it shows how concerned and alarmed people were at what was happening in that part of the river.
“The state of the river was just heart-breaking. We always spot small amounts of litter and clean that up, but this was on a different level.”
The extent of the issue and damage to wildlife and habitat was underlined by the fact that along with removing the silage, there were also dozens of dead fish, fish still alive but caught up in the wrapping, as well as the carcasses of six dead sheep.
All of it had to be towed clear by the members and volunteers, before being loaded onto tractors for removal.
“The area now looks amazing again, but we are hoping that Natural Resources Wales are now going to investigate and that local farmers will be spoken to, to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” says Gareth.
“We’re a canoe club, so the worry is if that if it happened again we simply haven’t got the resources and the man-hours to keep cleaning the river.”