A land-use study indicated that a reduction in agricultural liming may have been a major factor in the development of acid episodes and consequent fish kills in the River Esk and River Duddon. A field study was carried out to determine whether the reintroduction of catchment liming in the Esk valley could ameliorate acid episodes and thus prevent fish kills. Lime was applied to areas which had been limed in the past, comprising 10% of the Esk catchment. Flow, pH, calcium, aluminium, total humic substances, conductivity and invertebrates were monitored before and after liming. The River Duddon was monitored as a reference. There was a general reduction of the acidity of both the River Esk and the River Duddon during the study period. This appeared to be controlled by rainwater chemistry. There was little evidence for a major effect of liming on water chemistry which suggests that the mortalities of salmonids in the early 1980s were not due to a reduction in agricultural liming. © 1992.
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