The River Sid and its tributaries are very full at the moment – and one of the challenges highlighted by these heavy rains is soil run-off, as shown vividly in a short video on SVBG social media today:
There are indeed many challenges when soil ends up in our rivers on such a scale:
Too much soil entering rivers
On average, long term arable fields now have half the level of organic matter (soil carbon) of grassland. This has led to a marked increase in the rates (4 to 20 times those of the early 70s) of soil being washed off fields and into streams and rivers.
Most [river] fish species lay their eggs in gravel. The eggs rely on water flowing freely through the gravel to bring oxygen and take metabolic wastes away. If the gravels are filled with soil, the flow of water to the eggs is reduced and the eggs suffocate and die. The soil-filled gravel also supports fewer invertebrates. To compound the impact, the soil also brings with it damaging chemicals, especially phosphate and pesticides.
What are some of the ‘solutions’? The Rivers Trust has some well-researched proposals:
And the latest approaches are discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth:
Water pollution solutions
Sewage is now discharged into our rivers and seas on a regular basis. It’s joined by agricultural pollution and a host of microplastics. In this special debate programme, Tom Heap asks what’s gone wrong with our water system. How did we get into this situation, what will it cost to put it right, and how can we go about sorting out the mess we seem to be in? Tom is joined by a panel of experts to discuss the history, the finances and the future of cleaning up our waterways.