"A Clear Future for our River"

Monthly Archives: October 2017

Electrofishing surveys on the Wellow Brook

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, BART carried out electrofishing surveys on the Wellow Brook this summer.  The study was undertaken to provide part of a set of data being collected to monitor improvements made by the boulder weir removal (read more about this here) and also a number of in stream habitat improvements made following funding from the Environment Agency.

On 6th and 7th June 2017, BART worked with Five Rivers Environmental Contracting to conduct electrofishing surveys on the Wellow Brook between Stoney Littleton and Wellow.  Electrofishing is a fish surveying technique combining a mixture of electrical current with a known water conductivity to temporarily stun fish in order to measure and document the population and community fish statistics at a freshwater location.

The following fish were found during the survey:  Brown trout, European eel, Brook lamprey, Stone loach, Common bullhead, Minnow, 3 spined stickleback and 9 spined stickleback.  During the surveys, most fish were found at pinch points where both fish cover and flows increased significantly compared to otherwise straightened and canalised sections.  Recommendations were made to increase pinch points in these straightened sections of the river and introduce woody debris.  The findings of the electrofishing study were used to inform the river restoration works carried out by BART on the Wellow brook in September and October 2017. Read about the river restoration work to improve fish habitat here!


A summer of ecological surveys

BART’s ecologist, Jessy Grant, has been busy this summer with lots of exciting ecological monitoring projects for both BART and external clients.  Here’s more information about some of our ecological work!:

  • Case study:  Wellow brook pre-restoration surveys – Summer 2017

BART carried out a suite of surveys on the Wellow brook at Stoney Littleton in summer 2017 to assess the ecological conditions of the brook before beginning river habitat restoration works in September 2017.  (To read about the habitat restoration project please click here). The area where restoration was going to take place was divided into an upstream and downstream section.  In each section Jess undertook one macroinvertebrate survey, one 100m macrophyte survey and a 400m River Corridor Survey covering the whole section.  It is hoped that with further funding post restoration, monitoring will be carried out one year after the river restoration works to measure the changes. 

Analysis of the data found that the Wellow Brook at Stoney Littleton has a good diversity of macroinvertebrates and macrophytes present.  Water Framework Directive (WFD) classification results found the brook to be at “good status” for macroinvertebrates and macrophytes in the downstream stretch and “high status” for macrophytes and macroinvertebrates in the upstream stretch.  Recommendations were made for river restoration works in the straight sections of the brook where flow is slow, the substrate is predominantly silt and there is heavy shading.  The findings of the surveys informed the September in-stream restoration works, which helped to increase sinuosity and channel diversity in straighter sections of the channel where the flow is slower and decreased over-shading of the channel. 

  • Case study:  Corston and Newton Brooks’ environmental assessment and walkover surveys – Spring and Summer 2017

In spring and summer of 2017 the Duchy of Cornwall funded BART to undertake environmental monitoring on the Corston and Newton Brooks, west of Bath.  The aim of the monitoring was to record and assess the current environmental conditions of the brooks within the Duchy of Cornwall’s land and to make recommendations for potential improvements to the waterbodies.  Monitoring included macrophyte surveys, macroinvertebrate surveys, water quality surveys, waterbody assessment walkover surveys, wet weather walkover surveys and tree surveys.  The data and findings are being put together in a report for the Duchy of Cornwall, so watch this space for further information!








A month on the Wellow Brook

After working on the Wellow Brook for the whole of September we have finished this section of river restoration work! We have had a fantastic few weeks building in-stream habitat structures in Somerset at Midsomer Norton and Stoney Littleton, which will provide habitat for juvenile fish, scour sediment from riverbed gravels and create flow diversity by forming shallow areas and deeper pools.

In total we built 34 structures which is a tremendous achievement!

A completed woody debris structure

The woody debris structures, made from coppiced trees from the riverbank, will gradually accumulate sediment over time which will re-meander the channel within its banks and re-naturalise the stream. Within a few days we could already see sediment accumulating on the structures and the river meandering around them, so we’re looking forward to monitoring them in future. Re-naturalising the channel will improve habitat for invertebrates and fish, and therefore benefit all of the other wildlife which relies on this river too.

Volunteers at Midsomer Norton

BART would like to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who got involved in this project, without you we could not have achieved anywhere near as much as we did! Building the structures is hard work but all of our wonderful volunteers were happy to get stuck in and remained enthusiastic, even when it rained!

Working hard to secure those posts!

Another thank you to the Environment Agency Asset Performance Flood and Coastal Risk Management team who joined us for a day at Stoney Littleton, you were a great help!

Happy volunteers!

We hope to keep working on this stretch of river, and are continuing to look for further opportunities where improvements can be made…so watch this space!

A final thank you to our funders who made this work possible. To the People’s Postcode Trust for funding the restoration work in Midsomer Norton, and the Environment Agency and Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership for funding the work at Stoney Littleton.

Image result for People's Postcode Trust