SmartRivers

What is SmartRivers?

SmartRivers - a member of the Riverfly Plus citizen science family - enables volunteers, supported by an IFM certified 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 IFM certified 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 upload your species lists to our online database (instructions here), where biometric stress scores will be calculated for each 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

Database:

View, download and submit all SmartRivers data here

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

Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill

15/10/2020
Philip Dunne MP launches new Bill to tackle river pollution Salmon & Trout Conservation warmly welcomes the introduction of the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill, aimed at tackling the unacceptable levels of raw sewage being discharged into our rivers and streams. Rt. Hon Philip Dunne MP for Ludlow has published his Private Member’s Bill designed to […] Read More

It’s the perfume that you notice first.

15/10/2020
“If we can’t conserve the most protected, how can we ever conserve the rest?” Feargal Sharkey, recently appointed a Salmon & Trout Conservation Vice President writes, It’s the perfume that you notice first. Not in that pleasingly attractive CHANEL N° 5 kind of a way but more in that acrid, back of the throat, ammonia […] Read More

Time for bespoke regulatory targets for all chalkstreams

13/10/2020
Chalkstreams are as internationally rare and ecologically important as coral reefs or rainforests, and 85% of the world’s chalkstreams are found in England. With this comes a responsibility to protect them, something at the moment we are failing to deliver, with evidence of many stretches running dry, whilst others are clogged with nuisance algae and huge […] Read More

SmartRivers developments and achievements during lockdown

02/10/2020
As with everything right now, SmartRivers (the volunteer arm of the Riverfly Census) is navigating its way through the ‘new normal’. However, despite restrictions forcing us to postpone travelling and training courses this year, lockdown gave us the time to make SmartRivers even smarter.   SmartRivers – now an IFM certified course We are delighted […] Read More

MoRPh: a tool for assessing river habitats at biological monitoring sites

25/09/2020
As you probably already know, SmartRivers is proud to be part of the Riverfly Partnership’s ‘Riverfly Plus’ toolkit, alongside other exciting citizen science projects like MoRPh – the modular river survey River organisms respond to their environment and so it is important to monitor any environmental changes. Often the environment is characterised through water chemistry […] Read More

Persistence pays off in the pursuit of a pesticide problem

18/08/2020
This is a terrific outcome for the river, wild fish, the wider environment and the local community. Nick Measham, CEO S&TC writes, Bakkavör is closing its salad washing plant at Alresford on the Upper Itchen. In simple terms this should result in an end to significant chemical pollution and provide much needed respite for all […] Read More

Phosphorus, Chickens and the River Wye

18/08/2020
S&TC’s agricultural policy is simple; incentivise farmers to invest in their infrastructure and spread the word about modern soil management, but always be prepared to use the current legislation to regulate persistent offenders… Paul Knight, S&TC Fisheries Consultant George Monbiot writing in the Guardian recently highlighted the dreadful state of Welsh rivers.  He focussed on […] Read More

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

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