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Bristol Avon WaterBlitz 2018 – the results

Our Bristol Avon WaterBlitz is run annually to assess the health of the rivers and the streams within the catchment. As part of the WaterBlitz, participants test the water quality by taking samples to find out the levels of nitrate and phosphate in their chosen river or stream.

This year’s Bristol Avon WaterBlitz was run between the 23rd-29th of June 2018. The event engaged with over 260 participants to take 120 samples within the Bristol Avon catchment.

The WaterBlitz uses these results to assess the levels of excess nutrients in the rivers/streams in the catchment. Nitrate and phosphate occur naturally in rivers and are nutrients for plants and essential for wildlife. Excessive amounts of these nutrients may cause toxic algal blooms which harms aquatic insects and fish by decreasing oxygen levels and increases the cost of treating drinking water.

This year’s results shows that there is an increase in phosphate from last year, with 0.1mg/l, with an average of 0.16mg/l which is slightly above the agreed levels for a healthy river. However, nitrate levels have decreased with an average of 3.1mg/l compared to last year’s 4.2mg/l. Nitrate has no official standard for levels in rivers/streams.

To see more results please see the Interactive Results Map here.

Thanks to the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership for funding this project this year.

We are already on the lookout for funding to run this important research project again next year so if you are a business or individual who could help, do get in touch!

Project Update: Opening up Norton Brook (tributary of the Wellow Brook) to fish

The BART team have been busy this week removing several large blockages from the course of the Norton Brook. The blockages were deemed barriers to fish at most flow conditions and impound the waterbody, limiting habitat diversity throughout this stretch of the brook (approx. 300m).

Removing the blockages has opened up a large stretch from the confluence of the Wellow Brook to fish and aquatic life. The brook will now be given time to geomorphologically adjust before BART assess the stretch for further habitat improvements.

Before blockage removal – impounded flow conditions, very little light penetrating the stream, barrier to fish.

 

After blockage removal – riffle creation (potential fish spawning habitat), sinuosity re-instated, light penetrating the stream, fly life has already started to return.

 

Before blockage removal – reduced flow conditions due to impounding effect of sleepers and other debris that has collated; barrier to fish during most flow conditions.

 

After blockage removal – riffle creation (potential fish spawning habitat), sinuosity re-instated, light penetrating the stream, fly life has already started to return.

This work is part of the first delivery phase of BART’s Restoring the Wellow, Midford and Cam Brook project funded by the Environment Agency’s Water & Environment Improvement Fund.

Follow BART’s progress via our Twitter page https://twitter.com/BristolAvonRT and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolavonrivers/

For more information with regard to this project, please get in touch with simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org.

 

BART takes to the water at the Bristol Harbour Festival

Did you spot the BART logo in the Bristol Post, Telegraph or Sunday Times this weekend?

BART Project Manager Harriet took to the water in a cardboard boat this weekend for the ‘My Future My Choice‘ cardboard boat race at the Bristol Harbour Festival.

Her boat, HMS Fatberg, was created to raise awareness of the issues with fats and wastes being poured down our drains. You can read more about this issue here.

No win (more of a big sink!) but great to see the BART logo in the news!

Fish passage assessments at Radstock

Yesterday BART spent the day on the Wellow Brook assessing fish passage on three weirs in Radstock. We measured the physical characteristics of the weirs including water depths, height and length of structure and also flow velocities and inserted these into a database which calculates the passability of the structures for a number of different species. Unfortunately, the database confirmed that all three barriers presented a barrier to a range of fish species and therefore we will be investigating weir removal possibilities or fish passage options for these in the future.

This work is part of our wider Wellow and Cam Initiative which we have been working on for a number of years but which has picked up a lot of pace recently. The initiative includes: weir removals and fish passage surveys, coppicing, instream work, river corridor surveys, macroinvertebrate surveys, electrofishing surveys, land management advice , education and much more.

This piece of work was funded by Tesco Bags of Help – thanks to everyone who voted for us with your tokens in store!

 

Restoring the Wellow, Midford & Cam Brooks

BART has recently secured funding via the Environment Agency’s Water & Environment Improvement Fund to deliver habitat enhancement projects in two locations along the Cam & Wellow Brooks. The project aims to directly improve two water-bodies that are not meeting Water Framework Directive targets – in particular failing for fish where the classification has declined to poor in the 2016 cycle.

The project scope was developed in partnership with Avon & Tributaries Angling Association, who own the fishing rights of these waters. To date, BART has delivered stakeholder engagement, secured landowner permissions, finalised the project design and secured the required permits to physically deliver the works. Initial clearance and blockage removal will be underway very shortly.

The project will address the following issues:

  • Problematic sedimentation and diffuse pollution – there are multiple locations where livestock poaching is exacerbating bank erosion, causing increased yields of suspended sediments and faecal matter entering the river system. Current practice is likely to be detrimental to the health and recruitment of fish and other aquatic organisms including benthic invertebrates.
  • Poor fish access and supporting habitat – boulder weirs are impounding the flow of the river whilst creating barriers to smaller fish. As a consequence, a stretch of the river has become canalised, characterised by sluggish flows and limited habitat diversity or niches.
  • Limited fish spawning habitat – at present, high-potential spawning habitat is inaccessible to migratory fish due to blockages caused by fallen trees, waste material and collected detritus. Blockages also impound the river, creating unfavourable conditions for fish spawning. If removed there is potential to re-introduce idyllic spawning and juvenile refuge habitat. Livestock poaching is also extensive throughout this reach and will be addressed. 

Image 1. Bank poaching contributing fine sediments and clogging potential spawning riffles.

 

Follow our project progress via our Twitter page https://twitter.com/BristolAvonRT and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bristolavonrivers/

For more information with regard to this project, please get in touch with simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org.