"A Clear Future for our River"

Research

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!

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!

 

The Bristol Avon Waterblitz returns!

Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) is excited to announce the 2018 Bristol Avon WaterBlitz; a campaign to collect as many water quality samples as possible in a week from across the Bristol Avon Catchment, between Sat 23rd– and Fri 29th June 2018.

Our rivers are the central artery of the catchment with a fascinating history, beautiful scenery and stunning wildlife. Water quality in rivers across the country has been a key conservation issue over the last few decades and efforts to monitor and clean up our rivers mean that otters, kingfishers and water voles are all making comebacks on the banks of the Avon and its tributaries. However, water quality is still a massive challenge and BART need your help to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, BART is working in partnership with FreshWater Watch, a global programme developed by the environmental NGO, Earthwatch. This charity aims to connect people with science and nature, engaging people in citizen science to build up a wealth of research data collected by volunteers from all over the world.

BART is asking individuals and community groups to take part in the WaterBlitz this year and help to collect as many water quality samples as possible (last year we had 376 people involved!) within the Bristol Avon catchment, including Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North East Somerset.

The Bristol Avon Catchment

Using the free and simple to use water testing kit, volunteers can sample their chosen river or stream in the Bristol Avon catchment and upload the results to the FreshWater Watch website to compare the water quality level to other sites on an interactive results map.

To register and take part this year please follow the link below to sign up and you will then receive a free water quality sampling pack in the post.  Sampling kits are limited so please register by Friday 15th to ensure you can participate: https://freshwaterwatch.thewaterhub.org/group/bristol-avon-blitz

If you have any questions or queries about the 2018 Bristol Avon WaterBlitz please contact Alec at alec@bristolavonriverstrust.org

Thank you for helping to improve the water environment in the Bristol Avon for future generations!

New BART/University research students

BART are pleased to welcome our newest University research students this month from the University of Bristol who will be continuing our water quality monitoring along tributaries of the Bristol Frome, this time looking at potential urban sources!:

“We are from the University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences currently studying towards our BSc in Geography. We are working in partnership with Bristol Avon Rivers Trust to assess for pollution levels from the two brooks running from separate neighbouring housing estates. During this research we will be implementing various different techniques and procedures in order to collect the data required to research this aim and test it effectively.”

Thank you and we are looking forward to seeing your results!

Walkover surveys find room for improvement!

BART have been very busy recently, travelling all over the catchment doing walkover surveys and writing advisory reports for river improvement projects including the Corston, Newton, and Nunney Brooks and the River Somer. Jess, our Aquatic Scientist, has found many issues on the Nunney Brook including channel straightening and re-enforced banks which means there is limited bankside and in-stream habitat. She also found sections of the brook were overly deepened, sluggish, full of sediment and heavily shaded, preventing light from reaching the channel. These factors will reduce water quality and productivity in the channel, suppressing invertebrate populations due to lack of habitat and food sources which in turn reduces populations of other river wildlife.

Over-deepend, straightened and channelised section of the Nunney Brook

More survey work took us to a section of the River Avon near Sherston, Wiltshire, where we spent a beautiful evening assessing numbers of spawning Brown trout. We marked the locations of ‘redds’, which are depressions dug by the Brown trout into which they lay their eggs. This survey followed concerns of reduced numbers of the fish each year along with lower water levels. We are planning to put in some woody debris structures here next year to increase the diversity in water depth and flow, which will also help to scour the riverbed gravels of sediment which can smother the fish eggs and reduce spawning success.  To best position the woody debris structures to give the greatest benefit we are going to be monitoring locations of the redds over the winter.

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A beautiful evening for survey work!