MONITORING WATER QUALITY

If biodiversity is to be enhanced in the Sid Valley, then the current state of nature needs to be watched – though surveys and monitoring programmes.

A key ecosystem in the Valley is its “blue corridors” – and so it is clear that the quality of its waters needs to be monitored,  to gain that ‘baseline’ of information to see where we are before taking further steps to enhance biodiversity along the Valley’s waterways.

This is a key element in the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan:  See Policy 4: Green Corridors: The Adopted version of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan


WATER MONITORING PROJECT

Some thirty years ago, the National Rivers Authority ran a project to monitor water quality on the River Sid:

River Sid catchment : river water quality … | environmentdata.org

In the last two years, the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group has set up a project to record information about the quality of the water in the River Sid, its tributaries and other streams in the Sidmouth parish.

Here is a good overview of what the Water Monitoring Project is about:

Testing The Water In Local Rivers & Tributaries | Sid Valley Biodiversity Group

WATER MONITORING DATA

The main purpose of the Water Monitoring Project is to gather information, working with the WestCountry Citizen Science Investigations team (see below).

Here is the river survey data for 2020-21 presented visually, courtesy of the WestCountry Rivers Trust, who produced this in time for the presentation at the Science Festival in October 2021. The overall score will enable the WRT to compare the health of rivers across the region. The ecology data [life observed around the river] is scored on the low side because of Himalayan balsam.

SID VALLEY BIODIVERSITY GROUP

The SVBG website offers a lot of up-to-date information on this project, as well as the wider context of water quality in Devon and beyond.

This is from the Sid Valley Rivers Project page:

Maintaining and improving the health of our river system is a crucial part of a nature recovery plan: Monitoring is straightforward, training is given and no prior expertise is needed. Please contact us for further information

The Sid Valley Rivers Project – Sid Valley Biodiversity Group

And this is from the Rivers section of the site:

The Quality Of The Water In Our Rivers & Streams Impacts Biodiversity. But How Is Quality Assessed? And Who Conducts Water Quality Monitoring Tests?

Water quality scorecard
Water quality impacts biodiversity

Water quality can be tested in various ways with some evidence of pollution being visually obvious whilst other measures need chemical tests. In some rivers a degree of turbidity is natural to a specific catchment, especially after heavy rain. But clear water doesn’t automatically mean we have healthy water. Some pollutants aren’t visible and can be present in clear water.  That’s why conducting tests is vital if we are to accurately monitor and record water quality.

In the Sid Valley a number of volunteers work with the Westcountry Rivers Trust to regularly monitor water quality. The tests include turbidity, temperature, total dissolved solids and phosphate tests carried out using a test kit. This is enhanced by visual surveys of certain species such as otter, kingfishers etc and the reporting of invasive species. The results are recorded online on Cartographer software which allows aggregation of results across catchments and the region. These results are then available to the Environment Agency and inform their decisions at local and National level.

The attached video is of the latest Westcountry Rivers Trust webinar and shows how results are being used to produce a rivers scorecard. Westcountry CSI April Webinar – Our Scorecards – YouTube

River Catchment Water Quality Testing: Citizen Science Project – Sid Valley Biodiversity Group


WESTCOUNTRY RIVERS TRUST

The WRT are very keen on citizen science – that is, getting local people to monitor the quality of water on their own rivers and streams:

Westcountry Rivers Trust | Bringing Rivers to Life

Westcountry Rivers Trust | Facebook

WestCountry Rivers Trust Event July 2021 – YouTube


BATHING WATER QUALITY

The Environment Data pages of DEFRA contain a lot of regularly updated information on the waters around Sidmouth.

For example:

2021 Bathing Water Profile for Sidmouth Jacobs Ladder | environmentdata.gov.uk

Water samples history: Sidmouth Town | environmentdata.gov.uk

Burscombe Stream At Brook Farm | environmentdata.gov.uk

The Environment Agency is responsible for taking these measurements.

Here is a piece from the Sidmouth Herald from 25th May, 2012:

With more from the Herald:

Testing starts on bathing waters | Sidmouth Herald (2009)

Sidmouth beach ready for testing as water monitoring starts | Sidmouth Herald (2013)