Lunchtime and a call came in to the office about foam on the Water of Fail at Failford. It was shortly followed by another stating that it looked like slurry. Gordon and Struan were on their way back from schools in Cumnock so I called them and asked then to check on their way through the village and to see if they could narrow down the search for the source.

Shortly afterwards, the team arrived back confirming that it was a slurry incident. I reported this to SEPA with rough directions to the upper Fail where the source had been narrowed down. Muir and I headed out to walk and pinpoint the problem. We soon met a local SEPA officer on the case and within minutes we found it and several other enrichment issues emanating from the same area.

The source of the pollution in the upper Fail catchment

After having  a chat about things, we left SEPA to take water samples, speak to the landowner and to get to the bottom of the problem.
What I can say is that there appears to have been a significant quantity of slurry released (presumably accidentally) into the upper Water of Fail. It is likely this happened yesterday as it takes some time in low flows for pollution to reach the Ayr some 10km downstream. It is concerning that rather than report the incident, the pollution had been ignored. There’s no doubt they knew it had happened.

We looked for signs of dead or dying fish, there were none. This makes it difficult for SEPA to prove any lasting  impact  from the pollution. The reality is that unfortunately, there are few fish left in the Fail as a result of the enrichment and pollution that has arisen over the years from agriculture.

The burn was polluted along its length. This phoo was taken from Failford Bridge

The Fail entering the Ayr at Failford. Its not difficult to see the slurry entering the Fail pool and spreading across the river.

I won’t say more on this incident as SEPA are dealing with it and we are pleased about that. It is reassuring to know that they responded quickly and appreciated our call. Report pollution when you see it to SEPA by calling the local office 01292 294000 . If there’s no answer, this links automatically to their Euro Central office where calls are received 24 hours a day. Ask for an incident number so you can receive follow up reports if what’s happened. But do call them, they are there to help.