"A Clear Future for our River"

Monthly Archives: July 2019

We’ve raised one million pounds!

BART are really proud to announce that we have reached the £1 million mark for lifetime funds raised for river restoration and education work! (Plus a huge amount more bought in from partners in joint projects).

From humble beginnings six years ago with a few anglers, saddened at the decline of the Bristol Avon and it’s tributaries, we’ve developed a small but strong team delivering a huge range of projects around the catchment.

We’ve only started scratching at the surface and we have a huge amount left to do, but here’s to delivering the next millions worth of improvements!

BART electrofishing surveys

BART are pleased to announce that we now own our own set of electrofishing kit. BART has been conducting electrofishing surveys for some time with partners, however we have now been able to raise sufficient funds for our own equipment.

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. BART ensures that all members of their electrofishing team have adequate training and experiential learning to ensure that fish receive good animal husbandry and are returned to the watercourse in good health with zero impact upon the population as a result of the survey.

BART electrofishing surveys

We hope to use this around the catchment to monitor fish populations to determine sites in need of improvement works and also to follow the success of future restoration works. We have already been out to survey the Norton Brook to guide future restoration plans there, and were pleased to find a good number of juvenile trout.

A juvenile trout from the Norton Brook, Bath

2019 Bristol Avon Waterblitz – the results!

Thank you to all of our 424 wonderful volunteers for your efforts in monitoring for us this year. You can find out the results of the 2019 Waterblitz below!

You can also explore the data further on the interactive map.

What do the results show?

What do these results mean for our freshwater environments?

Elements such as phosphates and nitrates occur naturally in freshwater and are nutrients for plants and important for wildlife. However, at unnaturally high levels they are pollutants, impacting the freshwater ecosystem in detrimental ways. Excess nutrients cause algae, fungi, bacteria and some tolerant water plants to grow more rapidly and become more abundant than they would naturally. The consequences of this are that intolerant species are smothered, outcompeted or directly poisoned resulting in many species becoming rarer. Toxic algal blooms harm aquatic invertebrates and fish by reducing the amount of oxygen in the water and can lead to increased costs of drinking water treatment downstream. In the United Kingdom around 90% of lowland surface freshwaters like rivers, streams and ponds have ecologically damaging levels of either nitrogen, phosphorus or both (Biggs et al. 2014).

The data collected during the 2019 WaterBlitz shows that pollutant levels are high in many parts of the Bristol Avon catchment and have either stayed consistently high or increased in the past 3 years. It demonstrates a greater need to address the causes and decreasing the movement of pollutants into local watercourses, particularly though sewage effluent, fertiliser run-off and from urban surfaces. The WaterBlitz data you collected is being used to identify pollution hotspots where action needs to be taken.

How can you help?

  • Volunteer with your local Rivers Trust or community group. Get involved in river cleans, restoration projects and community initiatives to decrease pollution.
  • Reduce pollution by only flushing the 3 P’s, avoid pouring fats and oils down the sink, compost food waste and limit the use of household detergents and garden fertilisers.
  • Collect data during future WaterBlitz. Look out for- and report- pollution incidents when out for a walk (24/7 to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060) and get involved in citizen science events.

These above results are available as a PDF which is available on request from harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org