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:
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:
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
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 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
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:
BATHING WATER QUALITY
The Environment Data pages of DEFRA contain a lot of regularly updated information on the waters around Sidmouth.
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:
FURTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION FOR MONITORING WATER QUALITY ON THE SID
There are several resources available to determine the quality of river waters:
Which companies are polluting which rivers?
And what of private polluters?