"A Clear Future for our River"

Projects

Bristol Avon Waterblitz – the results!

The results are in and the Bristol Avon Waterblitz is now over! This is the first year that BART have run the Waterblitz, and it was a great success with 176 water quality samples taken and a total of 375 people involved!

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and the Greggs Foundation, we worked in partnership with FreshWater Watch to get as many people as possible to take a water quality sample from their local river or stream. The water quality testing kits measured the concentration of nitrates and phosphates, which are naturally occuring chemicals in rivers and are essential for life, but in high concentrations caused by sources of human pollution they can degrade water quality and harm aquatic life.

We had a great response to the Waterblitz, with many volunteers keen to contribute and learn more about the quality of their local river. Samples were taken from all across the Bristol Avon catchment, and it was so interesting to find out how the concentration of nitrates and phosphates varies in different water bodies. The results collected will aid us in gaining a better understanding of the state of the river environment, and provide an evidence base for future work.

 

A Duke of Edinburgh group from Playwood Forest School getting involved with the monitoring

To view the summary of the results, including graphs, maps and statistics please click the links below:

Waterblitz results page 1

Waterblitz results page 2

To see the results on the Freshwater Watch interactive map, please follow the link below:
https://freshwaterwatch.thewaterhub.org/bristol-avon-water-blitz

A big thank you to all of our volunteers, the results you have collected are invaluable in helping us determine the health and quality of the freshwater bodies within the Bristol Avon catchment.

We hope that all those who took part enjoyed sampling your local river, and found it interesting to learn more about water quality. If you would like to get more involved in protecting and monitoring the water environment, see the links below for more information:
– Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) – Riverfly monitoring and volunteering as a BART Beacon

Bristol Water and Wessex Water – Learn more about what you can do at home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somerset Frome Sediment Pathways Project

BART have completed a very interesting and useful project funded by the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership this Spring.

Sediment entering watercourses can have a detrimental effect on aquatic ecology, including fish and invertebrates.  This project has used predominantly field surveys to identify where sediment is entering watercourses in the upper Somerset Frome catchment and to determine the sources of this sediment.

The survey period of the project drew to a close at the end of March, with over 191 locations visited on the upper Somerset Frome looking for potential sediment pathways. Sediment pathways have been recorded at over 110 locations on the main river Frome and its tributaries including Redford Water, the Rodden Brook and the Marston Brook. At each location the source of the sediment pathway has been determined where possible and a diffuse pollution grade has been allocated to identify the severity of the pollution pathway.  Photo 1 shows an example of sediment entering the Rodden brook via a pipe during a wet weather event.

1. Pipe discharging into the Rodden Brook

The most common, and sometimes very severe pollution pathways seen as part of this project have included poaching and trampling by cattle and horses (photo 2), muddy farm tracks, gateways and yards, maize grown to the edge of watercourses with very little buffer zone (photo 3), discharging pipes and road run off. The most severe pollution pathways have been re-visited during or shortly after heavy rain to collect further evidence.

 

2. Poaching and soil compaction

3. Lack of buffer alongside a maize field resulting in run-off into the Rodden Brook

Alongside the field surveys the Somerset Frome project included a public engagement campaign to increase local awareness of the issues surrounding erosion risk and diffuse pollution and to build stronger relationships with the landowners surrounding the river Frome. As part of this work a farmers’ lunch was held on 9th March 2017 in the upper Frome area. This lunch brought together local farmers, BART and Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) to discuss sediment pathway issues in the catchment and to encourage partnership work in the future.

Thank you to all interested individuals and organisations who have been involved in the project and sent in information to help us prioritise areas to visit.

The report is now available to view but is too large to host on the website. If you would like a copy then please email our Project Officer Harriet at harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org

We are really keen to continue work with the very helpful landowners in this area and to help take the actions necessary to remove some of the problems we spotted. Many are potentially small and low cost but would add up to a significant decrease in sediment entering the river if they are fixed. We are currently seeking funding to make this happen. ​

Duchy of Cornwall river surveys

BART have been busy over the last few months undertaking a variety of river surveys on Duchy of Cornwall estate land near to Bath, including:

  • In-stream and riparian habitat surveys
  • Surrounding land use investigations to assess impacts on water quality.
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Macroinvertebrate surveys
  • Macrophyte surveys
  • Riparian tree surveys

BART’s Aquatic Scientist Jess running water quality tests with BART volunteer Jenny.

Findings from these surveys will be used to create recommendations for improvement works to both in-stream habitats and surrounding land use.

Assessing land use, riparian shading and other factors on the Corston and Newton Brooks.

We are grateful to the Duchy Estate for supporting us in this research and for their enthusiasm to protect our rivers.

BART are able to complete these and a number of other types of surveys throughout the Catchment. If you own or rent land with a river or stream, please feel free to get in contact if you would like to arrange a site visit and/or discuss survey and improvement opportunities by emailing harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org

Your Fisheries

BART have completed the first phase of the pilot Your Fisheries Pilot project which is taking place across the country on behalf of the Rivers Trust, Angling Trust and Environment Agency. This first phase was funded by the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership of which BART is a member. We will be continuing this project and developing the relationships we have with local angling clubs which is so important for identifying river improvement opportunities.
 The final report can be viewed here:
If you want to know more about the pilot project please follow the link shown below or Contact Ian Mock at ian@bristolavonriverstrust.org.

Electrofishing surveys

This BART worked with Five Rivers Environmental Contractors carrying out electrofishing surveys along the Midford Brook and Wellow Brook near to Bath.

Grayling, one of the finds from the survey

These surveys were conducted at a number of sites to collect valuable data and increase our fisheries knowledge in the Catchment for a variety of reasons. Firstly, as pre-project monitoring, to determine species presence before beginning habitat improvement works such as installing woody debris structures. Secondly, for post-project monitoring after the removal of three weirs in the Midford Brook. Thirdly, the surveys were to determine the presence of grayling which had not been determined in previous surveys.

A number of eels were found during the surveys

The surveys also trialed an exciting new technique called eDNA which analyses samples of water for DNA to test for the presence of different fish species. Whilst this technique has been going on for some time in ponds, this is a trial for rivers so we look forward to seeing the results!

Minnows in their beautiful spawning colours