"A Clear Future for our River"


Chippenham Yellow Fish event

On Saturday the 17th of November in Chippenham we will be co-hosting a yellow fish pollution awareness event with Wessex water! Its free to get involved so if your in the area come down and join us for 9:30 at the town hall.

Electrofishing surveys on the Wellow Brook

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, BART carried out electrofishing surveys on the Wellow Brook this summer.  The study was undertaken to provide part of a set of data being collected to monitor improvements made by the boulder weir removal (read more about this here) and also a number of in stream habitat improvements made following funding from the Environment Agency.

On 6th and 7th June 2017, BART worked with Five Rivers Environmental Contracting to conduct electrofishing surveys on the Wellow Brook between Stoney Littleton and Wellow.  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.

The following fish were found during the survey:  Brown trout, European eel, Brook lamprey, Stone loach, Common bullhead, Minnow, 3 spined stickleback and 9 spined stickleback.  During the surveys, most fish were found at pinch points where both fish cover and flows increased significantly compared to otherwise straightened and canalised sections.  Recommendations were made to increase pinch points in these straightened sections of the river and introduce woody debris.  The findings of the electrofishing study were used to inform the river restoration works carried out by BART on the Wellow brook in September and October 2017. Read about the river restoration work to improve fish habitat here!


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:

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








Ecological surveying near Bath

Our Aquatic Ecologist, Jess, and Project Officer Harriet have been out on both the Corston and Newton Brook near Bath doing a variety of walkover surveys.

This will help us to gain more understanding of the issues facing these rivers, and identify opportunity areas for improvements. The surveys included habitat walkovers, water quality monitoring and macrophyte and invertebrate surveys.

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If you would like us to come and give advice on your section of river then please get in touch with our Project Officer Harriet at harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org


Riverfly Monitoring training 2017

As the Riverfly Hub for the Bristol Avon catchment, BART is responsible for recruiting and training new volunteers as Riverfly monitors. This is part of the Anglers Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) run by the Riverfly Partnership, which enables anglers and other interested groups and individuals to actively monitor and protect their local rivers. This is a national scheme, and the more people we have out monitoring our rivers, the more pollution incidents are identified and reported.

BART runs the training sessions during spring and early summer, and this year was no exception with alomst 50 new volunteers trained as monitors!

Taking a Riverfly sample from the River Chew

We ran training sessions in Lacock, Batheaston, Freshford and Chew Magna which were all booked up with keen volunteers, all very interested in looking after their local rivers and learning more about river invetebrate species.

Learning how to identify different river invertebrates

The ARMI monitoring technique involves volunteers taking 3-minute kick samples from the river bed each month, and recording the presence and abundance of eight pollution-sensitive invertebrate groups. The focus of the sampling is on ‘riverflies’ – mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies. If invertebrate numbers drop below a ‘Trigger level’ (expected population abundances), the Environment Agency is notified so that the problem can be identified and action taken.

Monitors upload their results to the Riverfly database, and can track their surveys results over time. The Riverfly data held by each river group will also allow for long-term changes to be identified and will therefore help us to get a better understanding of invertebrate populations.

A sample of Heptageniidae

ARMI is already used widely in the UK as a ‘neighbourhood watch’ for rivers, practiced by anglers, community groups and individuals with an interest in their local river. It has proven effective in identifying pollution incidents and ensuring action is taken, and ensures that rivers are monitored more widely and more regularly than is possible for the Environment Agency to do alone.

A bunch of happy volunteers!

Thank you so much to everyone who volunteered and was trained as a Riverfly Monitor this year. We really appreciate your dedication and are really grateful for all the valuable data you record…keep it up!

Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All programme for funding the 2017 training sessions.