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BRISTOL AVON RIVERS TRUST
"A Clear Future for our River"

Latest News

Caring for the Cam: Project Update

BART have been working hard to address water quality issues and improve habitat for wildlife on the Cam Brook, Midford. The Caring for the Cam project is being funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery enabling BART to deliver exciting river restoration works alongside monitoring, training and community events to make the Cam better for the wildlife that depend on it and the people who enjoy it.

The project is addressing the issues identified on the Cam Brook which includes a stretch that has become canalised by weirs downstream, resulting in sluggish flows and limited habitat diversity. Bank poaching by livestock entering the water to drink has led to the collapse of parts of the bank and the entry of sediment into the river which, when combined with the input of nutrients from urine and faeces, has resulted in poor water quality, impacting fish habitat. Bankside habitat has suffered from the impact of livestock poaching and therefore in places there is a lack of riparian vegetation necessary to support wildlife including birds and the endangered water vole.

Heavy poaching has led to bank collapse along the brook – fine sediment and nutrients are washed into the watercourse, impacting on water quality and habitat
Our Cam-Do Attitude

We are proud to announce that we have now completed the next phase of our project on the Cam Brook to reduce the impacts of poaching by livestock along the banks of the river. Working with contractors and building a working relationship with the respective landowner, BART have installed approximately 700 metres of permanent solar powered electric fencing, which will prevent livestock from entering the water and allow the riparian buffer strip to establish.  Gates have been installed to allow access to the brook for anglers and bankside management. Instead of livestock drinking from the brook, the animals now have access to a new drinking trough situated away from the watercourse. These measures will improve the conditions of the brook by preventing livestock from entering the watercourse, destabilising bank faces and defecating in the brook. The fencing will allow buffer strips to establish, reducing run-off and the input of fine sediment caused by pastoral farming. A very simple solution with widespread benefits!

Still To Come

BART have led a series of riverfly monitor training events to enable local people to care for the river. With a number of new monitors in the area there are now more opportunities for issues to be spotted at an early stage and action to be taken. The next phase of the project will be to plant up the riparian buffer strip with native vegetation which will protect the integrity of the banks, filter harmful pollutants and provide cover for wildlife. If you are local to the project area and wish to get involved in the community tree planting, please contact george@bristolavonriverstrust.org. BART will be hosting community engagement and education events to showcase our work and encourage community ownership of the brook to conserve and improve its condition into the future.

Building On Success

The latest work builds on downstream river restoration works funded by the Environment Agency’s WEIF fund to improve the flow of the brook where it has become canalised and protect the banks from livestock poaching. With the help of a very willing landowner (and his tractor) we removed a timber and rock weir and re-profiled three boulder weirs to reduce the impounding effect of the structures, allowing the river to flow more naturally to benefit wild fish. We installed flow deflectors and brushwood mattresses at various locations in the channel to improve the sinuosity along the artificially straight section of the Cam Brook and provide refuge for fish and invertebrates. These works have already re-created riffle-pool habitat; reducing the amount of silt on the river bed, cleaning gravels and creating potential spawning habitat for wild fish. Our operations team delivered a programme of coppicing of bankside vegetation where the brook was over shaded, allowing light to penetrate the stream with a dappling effect to encourage macrophyte growth which we would expect to see throughout the reach, improving the available freshwater habitat. 460 metres of fencing has closed off the river from livestock and one formalised drinking bay in the brook has significantly reduced the quantity of sediment and nutrient input throughout this stretch.

BART’s latest riverfly monitoring training found all 8 key species of riverfly in the re-instated riffle-pool habitat which is fantastic news for the health of the brook! We will be showcasing our results soon so keep your eyes peeled.

Postcode Local Trust is a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Our project received funding from the Trust to complete the river restoration works and engage with the community.

 

We have reached 60 Riverfly monitors!

We have reached 60 Riverfly Partnership monitors! These volunteers each sample their site once a month, monitoring invertebrates as indicators of water quality. They help us to gain a long term dataset on the health of rivers, as well as identifying pollution incidents to enable response by the Environment Agency.

Click here to find out more about our Riverfly monitoring.

A massive thank you to all our dedicated volunteers! If you are interested in being trained, please get in touch with jess@bristolavonriverstrust.org

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