When the Environment Agency were alerted to a crisis in one of York’s rivers, they weren’t going to let anything get in their way.

Several hundred dead and dying fish were reported in the River Foss in the city centre at the weekend.

The river urgently needed more oxygen. And to make sure this work was carried out, experts from the agency even called out the fire brigade to help get through a locked gate at the back of the Castle Museum.

Doubled the oxygen

A York fire crew was called out at 9.27pm on Sunday night (July 29) and used an angle grinder to cut through the padlock and given the team access to the river.

Work underway to aerate the River Foss. Photograph: Environment Agency

An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

  • We attended and sent in our pumps to aerate the water with oxygen yesterday evening.

    We gained access to the site with permission from City of York Council and with the help of the York fire service.

    We were at the site until late last night and left the pump running overnight to re-oxygenate the water.

He said officials returned this morning (Monday, July 30) and measured an improvement in dissolved oxygen levels, from 18% to 40%.

“Hot, sunny weather can lead to low flows in rivers which makes it more difficult for fish,” he added.

“If any member of the public or angler sees any fish struggling then please contact our incident hotline on 0800 807060.”