SmartRivers

What is SmartRivers?

SmartRivers - a member of the Riverfly Plus citizen science family - enables volunteers, supported by a training scheme, training videos, an invertebrate-identification App and support programmes, to monitor the water quality in their rivers to a near-professional standard.

Nature's nursery is under stress

Salmon & trout are extremely vulnerable in their early freshwater life stages. The water in which they live must be pollution-free and plentiful in order for them to successfully mature and complete their life cycle.

Currently, the ideal conditions to maximise 'nature's hatchery' for salmon and trout are not being met in our rivers. These young fish are being subjected to subtle, and often invisible pollutants in the very water in which they live. Each of these pollutants has an environmental cost, leading to more stress in our fish and poorer quality salmon and trout.

Invertebrates are here to help

Invertebrates live in the same habitat as fish, so are experiencing the same water quality pressures as young salmon and trout. Through SmartRivers we are using invertebrates as a diagnostic test to understand more about the subtle pollutants 'stressing out' our fish.  They are easier and cheaper to sample than fish, and also show more revealing responses over time than the spot water samples used by regulators.

Analysing invertebrates this way has been thoroughly tried and tested through our Riverfly Census project – so we know it works!

SmartRivers is the diagnosis our fish are depending on

No other volunteer riverfly monitoring scheme goes to species-level.

SmartRivers is not a programme to just collect data for its own sake. By processing your species data through our unique calculator, SmartRivers analysis can pinpoint what the problems are and where they are occurring, allowing us to control what is controllable and drive real improvements to the quality of water flowing through our rivers.

 Only by prescribing our rivers the right 'treatment', will we achieve the conditions required to support sustainable populations of wild salmon and trout.

THE SMARTRIVERS PROCESS

SmartRivers monitoring has four steps

What training is required?

To launch a SmartRivers hub on a new river, we collect a one year professional benchmark and provide two day-long courses for groups of volunteers*:

*Unfortunately we can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers and not for individuals. However, if you are struggling to establish a 'hub' group your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help!

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BENCHMARKING

Once a hub is enrolled into SmartRivers, a one year (spring and autumn) benchmark sample is collected by our professional team at your five chosen monitoring sites.

This benchmark becomes a key part of your training and will be the reference point we will compare all volunteer monitoring against.

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DAY 1: SAMPLING TRAINING

Teaches you how to take a three-minute kick-sweep sample to professional guidelines and preserve it in alcohol for later identification to species level.

You will be shown how to identify the different habitats in your stretch and divvy up your three minutes sampling time accordingly.

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DAY 2: ID TRAINING

Teaches you how to carry out species-level identification using our App.

Rather than having to learn ID of all aquatic invertebrates, we teach you how to identify your river's expected species, obtained from our benchmarking work.

Pick your pathway

We appreciate that species identification is time consuming and not everyone's cup of tea, so we offer hubs the choice of two SmartRivers pathways:

Sample & Identify

If you choose the sample and identify option, you will be collecting samples at your chosen sites and identifying them to species-level yourself.

You will send your results to us and we will calculate biometric stress scores and provide a report for each sample site.

Sample & Send

INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEERS

Our Hubs:

Resources:

Helpful materials and guides are available to view and download on our SmartRivers volunteer resources page

FAQs:

Common volunteer questions regarding sampling, identification and data are all answered in our FAQs section.

Register Your Group

Why & how to get involved in SmartRivers

We provide training courses, videos, an identification App, and other tools and support throughout the process, tailored to you and your river.

We're already working with angling clubs, Rivers Trusts and many others to create a robust programme - but we need your input too!

Riverfly Partnership experience is valuable, but not essential. What is essential is a long-term commitment to improving and protecting our rivers.

We do not underestimate the challenge to grow the SmartRivers network, but we have the resources to help you meet the challenge.

If your club or group is interested in being part of SmartRivers please email 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!

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Latest SmartRivers News

Thirty-six toxic pesticides washed into headwaters of SAC chalkstream

23/07/2020
Bakkavör washing unknown quantities of thirty-six toxic pesticides, which present real danger to aquatic life, into headwaters of SAC chalkstream Following on from our recent release about dangerous quantities of toxic neonicotinoid Acetamiprid being washed off salad leaves into the headwaters of a protected chalkstream, a further freedom of Information (FOI) request proves this is just […] Read More

SmartRivers launched in Wales

12/06/2020
S&TC Cymru launches its first SmartRivers hub in partnership with the South East Wales Rivers Trust S&TC Cymru is delighted to announce that South East Wales Rivers Trust (SEWRT) is to host the first SmartRivers hub in Wales. The hub is certain to play a valuable role in assisting SEWRT restore the natural beauty and […] Read More

The SAMARCH Project International Salmonid Coastal and Marine Telemetry Workshop

07/05/2020
The “Blue Book” Based on a workshop organised by Salmon & Trout Conservation and Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust on behalf of the SAMARCH Project and the Atlantic Salmon Trust in Southampton, UK, on the 5th and 6th November 2019. SAMARCH is a five-year project with a grant of €5.8m from the EU’s France Channel […] Read More

Increase in abundance: A dangerously simplistic view of river health

01/05/2020
Species richness and assemblage gives a far more accurate assessment of invertebrate communities……….. Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science & Environmental Policy, responds to a recent article in The Times, Your article Boom in freshwater bugs bucks trend of disappearing insects (April 24th) sets a dangerously simplistic view of the health of our rivers and water life. […] Read More

Agricultural Pollution – Educate, Encourage, Enforce

09/04/2020
“Up to 2016, a staggering 95% of farms did not comply with storage regulations and 49% were polluting the river Axe. Environmental law breaking, albeit mostly through lack of knowledge, on a massive scale.” Paul Knight, Outgoing CEO Salmon & Trout Conservation writes, S&TC’s Census Report, published in May 2019, provided evidence that the main […] Read More

Environmental Land Management Scheme 2020

17/03/2020
Environmental Land Management Scheme Consultation 2020 Make your voice heard: http://bit.ly/ELMS_2020 CLOSING DATE FOR COMMENTS 5th May 2020 Overview of Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) Response • The main requirement is for political commitment to finally tackle the issue of pollution by inappropriate land use – particularly relevant to our rivers and aquatic life (EA River […] Read More

S&TC launches first SmartRivers hub in Scotland

10/03/2020
S&TC launches first SmartRivers hub in Scotland in partnership with Flow Country Rivers Trust. The River Halladale is set to become the first river in Scotland to join SmartRivers, as Salmon and Trout Conservation continue trials of the innovative scheme. The scheme, born out of the Riverfly Census, uses aquatic invertebrates as a diagnostic test to […] Read More

Bakkavör plc must now end pollution of Upper Itchen

17/02/2020
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 […] Read More

Sewin and their habitats

10/02/2020
SEWIN AND THEIR HABITATS Update 14 March 2020: This event has been postponed. All those who expressed an interest will be contacted once a new date is fixed. 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 […] Read More

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

09/12/2019
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. Cyril is […] Read More

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