Garry: 50 years of ecological disaster.
The River Garry - Scotland's most abused river?
The River Garry is a major tributary within the Tay district, which was once especially important for spring salmon. Now it is perhaps the most heavily abstracted river of its size in Scotland, if not the UK.
Water is diverted by gravity from Loch Garry to Loch Ericht by means of a tunnel through the hillside. For much of the time no water flows out of Loch Garry and there is no requirement for Scottish and Southern Energy to do so.
Moving downstream, some flow does then enter from small sidestreams, but in times of dry weather there is still hardly any flow in the river, even several miles downstream from Loch Garry, as can clearly be seen in this photo.
Approximately 9 km below Loch Garry a second abstraction point has been installed to collect this water. The flow is checked at this weir and is diverted into a tunnel, this time diverting all water to Loch Errochty. Unless the river is very high, the river is dry immediately downstream.
Over time, gravel accumulates behind the weir. This is excavated out periodically. The gravel is then dumped on the bank of the Garry forming a veritable mountain of stones. For some distance below the weir the Garry has been starved of gravel for half a century!
Even downstream from the Garry Intake the larger of the side streams flowing into the Garry are abstracted.Again every drop of water is taken.
The water from the lower streams is then piped back to the intake. This network extends as far downstream as the Bruar Water, 15km below the main Garry Intake.
To add insult to injury, since this part of the Garry has so little flow, it has been considered unsuitable for salmon spawning and, to prevent salmon becoming trapped and dying, a weir was constructed at Struan with the sole purpose of excluding migratory fish.