High-frequency phosphorus monitoring for water quality management

Using high-frequency phosphorus monitoring for water quality management: a case study of the upper River Itchen, UK

Gary R. Fones & Adil Bakir & Janina Gray & Lauren Mattingley & Nick Measham & Paul Knight & Michael J. Bowes & Richard Greenwood & Graham A. Mills

Abstract Increased concentrations of phosphorus (P) in riverine systems lead to eutrophication and can contribute to other environmental effects. Chalk rivers are known to be particularly sensitive to elevated P levels. We used high-frequency (daily) automatic water sampling at five distinct locations in the upper River Itchen (Hampshire, UK) between May 2016 and June 2017 to identify the main P species……..

Read the full paper HERE

Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science & Environmental Policy at S&TC said: 

"This peer-reviewed article has come from our phosphate (p) monitoring work on the Itchen. It highlights the spiky nature of P, which is typically missed in the EA’s current monthly monitoring regime, and the need to better understand the impact these spikes could be having on river ecology. As a next step, S&TC, alongside EA and HIWWT, have joint funded a PhD at Nottingham University, which started in Sept 2019, to investigate the ecological impact of the P spikes."

Nick Measham, S&TC Deputy CEO said:

"We have already taken this science and turned it into action. The work underpinned changes to watercress companies’ discharge permits on the Itchen and contributed to a massive reduction of this pollutant in the river. 

The spiky nature of the discharge implies that the EA’s monthly sampling, combined with permit limits set in terms of annual averages, does not provide the protection our rivers need. Permit reform and the use of monitoring technology is urgently required. The current regime makes no sense.

Much more remains to be done but this is a start."

 

Bakkavör plc must now end pollution of Upper Itchen

Bakkavör plc must now end pollution of Upper Itchen

“Continued pollution unnecessary and unacceptable.” 

NEWS RELEASE 13 Feb 2020

Sustained pressure from S&TC has resulted in Bakkavör plc finding a solution that should effectively end their pollution of the Upper Itchen, but twenty months after S&TC first complained to the EA we are still waiting for action.

S&TC understands that following our notification under the Environmental Liability Directive to the EA, which raised concerns that pesticides from the Alresford Salads plant represented an imminent threat to aquatic invertebrates, Bakkavör has successfully trialled a technical solution to remove a range of chemicals from their discharges.

S&TC has seen the results of trials using ozone (attached) which appear to have removed pesticides, herbicides and insecticides to levels below the current limits of detection. This process not only appears to remove problem pesticides washed off imported salad leaves but will also remove toxic chemicals that have leached into the groundwater over previous years., If treatment is implemented, this could mean the discharge would return water to the river in a cleaner state than it came out of Bakkavör’s borehole.

Bakkavör deserves credit for developing what appears to be a powerful solution that will deliver real world, meaningful improvements for the ecology of this important chalkstream. But it must be implemented without delay and operate full-time.

Nick Measham, Deputy CEO for Salmon & Trout Conservation said:
“Almost two years on from our initial complaint the river is still suffering. A solution has now been identified. Continued pollution is unnecessary and unacceptable. It is untenable that rapid action will not now be taken to bring an end to this episode. 
 
S&TC wants the process to remove pesticides to be implemented by the end of 2020. If not, we will have to consider all options open to us to bring this pollution to an end”

The success of S&TC in motivating Bakkavör to find a solution is a strong validation of our approach to conserve and restore our rivers. However, there remain long standing structural issues with the Environment Agency’s current discharge permitting regime which raise considerable doubts about its ability to deliver genuine environmental protection. Importantly, there is a severe lack of resources for the EA’s monitoring programme.

S&TC’s invertebrate sampling and analysis clearly indicated a strong signal for chemical damage which subsequently forced the EA to conduct its own detailed investigation. That EA investigation revealed Bakkavör was in fact discharging a cocktail of potentially dangerous pesticides, including the neonicotinoid, acetamiprid. In response to these findings the EA requested Bakkavör find a means of removing pesticides from its discharge and to accept revisions to its discharge permit. Whether any of this would have happened without S&TC forcing the issue must be in doubt.

Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science & Policy for Salmon & Trout Conservation, added:

"The situation at Bakkavör Alresford Salads makes it obvious that the way the EA manages and regulates its permitting process is not protecting the environment. 

The EA must now ensure nationally that any permit with the potential to discharge pesticides into rivers is reviewed. 

There is no excuse to delay and we expect significant progress on this from the EA in 2020.”

While this is a noteworthy local issue, it may also have national implications. Further investigations by S&TC indicate that there could be hundreds of other sites with similar issues across England.

S&TC’s use of aquatic invertebrate analysis as a diagnostic tool, combined with an uncompromising approach to dealing with public authorities, is a tried and tested approach that can rapidly improve wild water habitats across all of the UK. We will continue to press the EA to adopt this process of permit revision for pesticide discharges nationally and pursue polluters to the fullest of our ability.

ENDS

Issued by Corin Smith comms@salmon-trout.org (07463 576892) on behalf of Salmon and Trout Conservation.

Notes to Editors

(1) Salmon and Trout Conservation

Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) was established as the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) in 1903 to address the damage done to our rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Since then, S&TC has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment for the public benefit. S&TC has charitable status in England, Wales and Scotland and its charitable objectives empower it to address all issues affecting fish and the aquatic environment, supported by robust evidence from its scientific network, and to take the widest possible remit in protecting salmonid fish stocks and the aquatic environment upon which they depend.

https://www.salmon-trout.org/news

 

(2) Previous coverage

https://www.salmon-trout.org/2019/06/17/bakkavor-alresford-salads-impacting-upper-itchen/

https://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk/news/17719320.river-pollution-row-returns-as-report-on-bakkavor-released/

Sewin and their habitats

SEWIN AND THEIR HABITATS

10am - 4pm, Monday, March the 30th, 2020

Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru warmly invite you to their Annual Seminar for 2020

An opportunity to hear the latest developments aimed at stock recovery

Lantra, Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells

A light lunch will be provided. Please advise us should you have any specific dietary requirements

RSVP by Monday, March the 16th to wales@salmon-trout.org

Attendance is free but applications from members will receive priority.

Please include your membership number with your application.

----------------

SIWIN A’U CYNEFINOEDD

10yb - 4yp, Dydd Llun, Mawrth y 30ain, 2020

Mae’n bleser gan Gadwraeth yr Eog a’r Brithyll yng Nghymru eich gwahodd i’w Seminar Flynyddol ar gyfer 2020 

Cyfle i glywed y diweddaraf ar gamau i amddiffyn ac adfer eu niferoedd

Lantra, Maes y Sioe Fawr, Llanelwedd, Llanfair ym Muallt

Darperir cinio ysgafn. Rhowch wybod i ni os oes ganddoch unrhyw anghenion bwyd arbennig

RSVP erbyn Dydd Llun, Mawrth y 16eg i wales@salmon-trout.org

Ni chodir tâl mynediad ond rhoddir blaenoriaeth i geisiadau gan aelodau.

Nodwch eich rhif aelodaeth gyda’ch cais am le os gwelwch yn dda.

Snapshot survey of the River Tywi (Towy) 2018

Dr Cyril Bennett MBE becomes S&TC’s latest honorary life member

We are proud to award Cyril Bennett an honorary life membership of S&TC for his massive contribution to protecting river ecology in general and to the Riverfly Census and SmartRivers in particular. He has been a fly fisherman for 60 years which has stimulated his keen interest in riverfly identification and aquatic ecology.

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Cyril is a founder member of the Riverfly Partnership; pioneered the Angler’s Monitoring Initiative (AMI) to highlight pollution problems and initiated the River Invertebrate Identification & Monitoring (RIIM) course to exploit species-level analysis. Research work with the John Spedan Lewis Trust on the River Test at Leckford including Riverfly reintroductions after a pollution incident.

He has achieved academic distinction while working full time. He has a PhD with the University of London (Queen Mary College) on the Ecology of Mayflies, is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES) and has taught ecology at the Open University.

He has also put his lifelong interest in insect macro photography to great effect: he pioneered the development of a pictorial-based App, using his images, to aid species identification. He co-authored ‘A Pictorial Guide to British Ephemeroptera’ (Field Studies Council) and ‘Matching the Hatch’ (Merlin Unwin Books).

He was awarded MBE (for services to Riverfly conservation) in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC are a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value - we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.

River Invertebrate App – Status Update

We are aware users of our invertebrate identification app have been experiencing access issues.

S&TC apologises for any inconvenience caused.

River Invertebrate App

Issued: 17:00hrs 17th Feb 2020

For anyone experiencing the 'SQL' error message, or any other issues when using the app complete the following steps.

1. Check you definitely have version 2.4.1 running. You can find this in the corner of the white bar where the logos are on the category menu.

2. Delete and reinstall the app. For Android users, deleting straight off the applications menu screen is not enough, make sure you complete the delete through the Google Play app. For Apple users, deleting directly from the home screen is fine.

Issued: 17:00hrs 7th Nov 2019

We are aware users of our invertebrate identification app have been experiencing access issues. S&TC apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Due to a problem out of our control we have had to migrate the app to a new company in order to restore its functionality. Addressing the technical fault is being treated as a top priority and we are working hard to get all existing users up and running as soon as possible.

A further update will be issued as soon as we have more news.

SmartRivers Update – Great Stour

This autumn we took SmartRivers to the beautiful county of Kent.

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Thanks to the generosity of Stour Fishery Association we were able to start working on the Great Stour, an interesting river that begins away from Kent’s chalk downs, yet enjoys the full character of a chalk stream due to significant influxes of groundwater from chalk springs in the river valley. 

We successfully collected our professional ‘benchmark’ samples at five sites. Benchmarking is the first step for any new hub. As well as providing the basis of the training, it also provides a scientifically robust reference point. We will be returning in spring to finish the benchmarking. Some invertebrate species are only found in certain seasons, so sampling in both autumn and spring gives us good coverage.

Once the benchmarks were collected we moved on teaching the SFA volunteers how to perform a 3 minute kick-sweep sample to a near professional standard. This included how to identify the available habitats and divvy up your 3 minutes sampling time accordingly. Varying sizes of bed substrate, plants at the river margins and different types of in-river weed all host their own unique assemblages of invertebrates. For a representative, useful sample it is key to move around and capture all these habitats. The volunteers did a brilliant job getting to grips with the technique.

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For the second part of the day, we said goodbye to the picturesque Godmersham Park and headed to the classroom. Using samples collected from the morning, the volunteers were trained to properly wash their samples using various sieves and begin the challenging process of picking out animals. Invertebrates come in many different forms and most are tiny in size, so this is no small undertaking! Even an expert can spend a whole day simply picking out invertebrates. The beauty of the SmartRivers process is that if you start to go ‘tray blind’ the animals are preserved in alcohol, so you can take as long as you need!

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A huge thank you to our trainers, Richard Osmond and Matt Owen-Farmer and of course to the Stour Fishery Association for enrolling into SmartRivers. We look forward to visiting you again in spring for a lesson in identifying your expected species!

If your club or group is interested in being part of SmartRivers drop me a message at smartrivers@salmon-trout.org

We can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers, but if you are struggling to find additional volunteers your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help! No previous experience is required, but Riverfly Partnership training is handy to have.

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC is a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value - we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.

Riverfly Partnership News

There are many Riverfly monitoring schemes around, so it can be tricky to understand why so many different schemes are necessary.

As the population continues to expand, and our dependence on the environment increases, it is more important than ever that we keep a close eye on the health of our water ecosystems. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of citizen science schemes available that enable people of all ages and knowledge levels to engage with and monitor the condition of their rivers.

Riverfly monitoring is a brilliant way for volunteers to carry out river health checks.  Freshwater invertebrates spend the majority of their lifecycles as nymphs, where they live underwater, sometimes for years! The abundance and diversity of the invertebrate community present in a river is highly linked with the quality and quantity of the water surrounding them. This relationship allows invertebrates to be used as a diagnostic test. Similar to a blood test, by looking at what’s there and what isn’t, we can derive a wealth of information about their condition.

There are many Riverfly monitoring schemes around, so it can be tricky to understand why so many different schemes are necessary. To address this, together with our colleagues at Riverfly Partnership, we have built a helpful explanation of how SmartRivers, Extended Riverfly and ARMI all fit together. They do provide different types of information for slightly different purposes, but are all hugely important in our fight for healthy waters.

So, whether you choose to volunteer for one scheme, or all of them, please know that your contribution is incredibly valued and from all of us at S&TC and Riverfly Partnership, thank you.

For more information on S&TC’s SmartRivers: www.salmon-trout.org/smart-rivers
For more information on ARMI and Extended Riverfly: www.riverflies.org

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC are a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value - we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.

SmartRivers is delivering results

The hot dry summer has exposed the stress our rivers are under

Nick Measham, Deputy CEO, S&TC

To view the full interview click HERE

The hot dry summer has exposed the stress our rivers are under – particularly in Southern chalkstreams where algal growth and sediment is choking life to a seemingly unprecedented extent. Once clean gravels are covered in thick mats of algae and river weeds are festooned with tresses of filamentous algae. Elsewhere in England and Wales, lethal fish-killing slurry spills are occurring with distressing frequency.

S&TC’s Riverfly Census and our SmartRivers’ initiative, using volunteers to collect species-level data to Environment Agency (EA) standards, demonstrates the destructive impact agriculture is having on water quality through sediment, phosphate and chemicals leaching into rivers. Sewage works remain a problem – albeit possibly a reducing one if their own monitoring is to be believed which, as a result of the case of Southern Water, we need to remain sceptical about.

Great news then that SmartRivers is spreading rapidly across the country thanks to support from Esmée Fairbairn, Patagonia and others. This volunteer data collection is providing evidence of the good, the bad and the ugly in our rivers.

Lauren Mattingley, S&TC Science Officer said: 

"Since launch in spring this year, the ‘SmartRivers’ effect has begun to spread across the UK. With five hubs established and a further six in the process of enrolment, in just a short period of time SmartRivers has already started to grow."

Autumn 2019 has seen the completion of Wiltshire Fisheries Association's training, the enrolment of Stour Fishery Association in Kent and the first round of volunteer species identification from Bowland Game Fishing Association . Meanwhile back at HQ we are hard at work preparing new species to be added to our app, filling gaps identified by our hubs.

Another focus is the development of our linked database. This will communicate with the Environment Agency’s data and other citizen science data platforms. By ensuring our data speaks to other data, we have the best chance of understanding and alleviating the subtle, often invisible pressures threatening nature’s nursery of wild salmon and trout

The power of this species-level invertebrate data is that it enables the local SmartRivers’ hubs, supported by S&TC, to produce robust and tangible results. The EA’s action to force Bakkavör to stop discharging deadly pesticides washed off imported salads into the headwaters of the Itchen is just one case in point.

Nick Measham, S&TC’s Deputy CEO (Project Manager for the Riverfly Census and SmartRivers) said,

"The work to get Bakkavor to remove pesticides from its discharge is setting national precedents and changing policy. The local EA has already asked another salad-washer, Vitacress, to take out pesticides from its discharge. We will keep up the pressure until all salad and vegetable processing clean up their act."

On that note, we are hopeful that Bakkavor will be able to employ sophisticated technology to clean its discharge to an acceptable level. We will be keeping up the pressure to ensure this happens as we told the EA in a meeting this week. Other potential actions on the back of SmartRivers’ data are well-advanced in the Hampshire Avon catchment, another SAC river in a poor condition in many places.

Our fundamental aim is to make sure agricultural regulations are observed and enforced if need be. This will not be easy. The resources currently available to the EA to inspect farms are insufficient. A farm is inspected on average once every 200 years. We need all the SmartRivers’ evidence we can muster.

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC is a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value - we are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

Some of our local reports can be found on the slider below. Alternatively, visit the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.