Riverfly Census Report

Salmon & Trout Conservation issues report and conclusions from its three-year River Census project 

“The Riverfly Census Report has been central to S&TC’s work for the past three years. It coincides with the United Nations’ recent statement on the catastrophic state of the global environment. The results should worry everyone. Our message is simple; unless there is radical change our rivers will soon become lifeless. With ever increasing public interest in environmental health there is a desire for real change. Government must use this opportunity to incentivise businesses to place the protection of our rivers, wild fish and all other water-dependent life at the centre of what they do.”

Paul Knight, Chief Executive, Salmon & Trout Conservation

Milestone Salmon & Trout Conservation study reveals that sediment, sewage and commercial salad washing, are causing dramatic declines of keystone aquatic invertebrate life throughout England’s lifeblood rivers

Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) initiated The Riverfly Census to collect high-resolution, scientifically robust data about the state of our rivers and the pressures facing them.

To download the full report: click here

The Riverfly Census highlights worrying declines of aquatic insects in English rivers as a direct consequence of industrial, agricultural and domestic pollution.  Aquatic insects are the equivalent of “the canary in the coal mine” when ascertaining the health of individual rivers. Declines of up to 58% in some species have been observed in the last thirty years, with no sign of the trend reversing.

Three-year high-resolution study, the Riverfly Census, employed standardised monitoring of aquatic invertebrate life in key English rivers to reveal dramatic changes in water quality and ecosystems

The Riverfly Census data provides an overview of how pollution affects a particular river. The aquatic insect community is shaped by the quality of the water at each sample point. Scientists then decode this bug-based information. Armed with these biological snapshots, we are able to zoom in on particular problems and if necessary, carry out further invertebrate or chemical sampling.

Lauren Mattingley, S&TC Scientific Officer, added:

“It is an often-overlooked fact that invertebrates essentially run our planet. They make up the majority of species on earth and sustain all life. Aquatic insects are invaluable in unlocking the true story of water quality in our rivers. Much of the pollution threatening our waters is subtle and invisible to the naked eye. By looking at what species were there, and which are missing, for the first time we have been able to truly quantify the invisible stressors deteriorating water quality throughout England.”

Urgent action from Government and the Environment Agency is required to protect keystone aquatic invertebrate life in English river ecosystems to prevent further declines.

S&TC attribute the root cause for the majority of aquatic insect declines to:

  • increased levels of Phosphorus (emanating predominantly from sewerage systems)
  • deposition of fine sediment (the result of poor management of agricultural soils) and
  • an overwhelming array of chemicals entering rivers (including flushing of pesticides from imported salad leaves)

Nick Measham, S&TC Freshwater Campaigns Manager, commented:

Much of the scientific work done by or on behalf of S&TC is complex, detailed and unspectacular.  The results can take years to collect and interpret – but this is the heart of what we do, as, without the evidence, those who damage our waters cannot be challenged.”

Exacerbating the crisis facing the health of our rivers is a framework of weak environmental regulations. Too often these fail to address real world issues, such as the concurrent release of chemicals and their cumulative effects. When combined with a long-standing culture of apparent light touch enforcement, the existing regulatory framework is wholly failing to offer adequate protection.

Diminished regulatory resources and outdated monitoring approaches are also likely to be hiding the true extent of harmful emissions in river ecosystems. Only with robust long-term monitoring in the mode of the Riverfly Census can we truly understand the changes occurring in our freshwater habitats. The Riverfly Census has started to address the lack of widespread, high resolution benchmarking but considerably more work now needs to be undertaken.

Dr. Janina Gray, S&TC Head of Science & Environmental Policy:

“The evidence is clear; our rivers urgently need our help. Current regulation and management are not managing to halt the frightening decline of aquatic insects, let alone reverse it. Our freshwater fish and invertebrates are being choked by fine sediments which should be on fields, not in rivers, and are subjected to chemical cocktails we don’t understand or monitor. If we want our children to be able to watch wild trout rising, a mayfly hatch emerging or a kingfisher feeding, the time to act is now.  This degradation is happening now, under our noses and on our watch. It is time for all of us to take action.”

Salmon & Trout Conservation is calling for action at the national level and is making a series of policy recommendations:

  • Further investigations into the biological impact of phosphorus spikes. Without this work, the validation that discharge permits, based on an annual average of monthly samples, are providing for the protection of our rivers is highly questionable.
  • Chalkstreams should have their own classification targets within the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
  • Establish a standardised approach to monitoring fine sediment in our rivers and set appropriate river specific standards.
  • Develop a national programme of species-level monitoring to provide the resolution required to detect pressures such as excess phosphates, sediment and damaging chemicals, and the benchmarking on which to make informed decisions.
  • Include SPEAR analysis in River Basin Management Planning within WFD, to allow the biological impacts of chemicals to be assessed alongside other pressures, and requirements for additional supplementary chemical monitoring prioritised where necessary.
  • Ensure the environmental protection offered by European legislation is transposed into and implemented through UK law, including the creation of Water Protection Zones where existing measures fail to protect water quality and river ecology.
  • A review of discharge permit guidance to include measures to assess the cumulative and legacy impacts of multiple chemicals within the discharge.
  • All chalkstreams to have bespoke invertebrate targets to drive forward improvements, whilst WFD classification targets are being developed.

Issued by Corin Smith comms@salmon-trout.org (07463 576892) on behalf of Salmon and Trout Conservation. For more information please contact janina@salmon-trout.organd nick@salmon-trout.org on 01425 652461

Reporting with a purpose

S&TC is a national organisation and we use evidence from local case studies to help instigate policy changes that will benefit UK wild fish populations. But, this is just part of the value. We are making all our Riverfly Census findings available so they can be used to inform local management and drive action.

Each individual river report is based on three years of surveying data. Where possible, we have linked up our findings with other existing literature and data. Using the available information we suggest where local fishing and/or conservation groups can focus their management efforts to achieve the best health outcomes for each of the 12 original Census rivers.

S&TC’s local reports can be found by visiting the Riverfly Census page and scroll down to the map.

Owens Farm west of Hook

Update from Hook Action Against Overdevelopment

Stop Owens Farm – West of Hook

The developer is appealing against Hart’s refusal of the Owens Farm planning application for 700 dwellings.  The appeal hearing starts on Tuesday 19th March.

Hook Action Against Overdevelopment invited Whitewater Valley Preservation Society to speak at the appeal against this development, because of the strength of our previously submitted objection.

We want to show the Planning Inspector the enormous level of dismay and concern at this application.

You can help do this in two ways:

  • Attend part of the appeal hearing
  • Display the poster above (click it to view & print)

The appeal starts at 10am on Tuesday 19th March in the Council Chamber at the Hart District Council offices, Harlington Way, Fleet GU51 4AE.  Parking is available in the Victoria Road car park.

The hearing will run until Friday 29th March, although likely to exclude Monday 25th March.  We urge you to attend whenever you have a chance.  You can come and go as you like during the hearing.  A large representation on the first morning will make the greatest impression on the Inspector.

The inspector will probably visit Hook on Monday 18th March and make other visits during the appeal.  She will not only visit the site but also other parts to fully appreciate the implications on Hook as a whole.  Thank you in anticipation of your help in trying to get this appeal refused.

We would also like to take this opportunity to say a very big thank you!  We have seen objections from over 310 people to the applications to deregister part of Jubilee Green / carry out restricted work on Hook Common.  A great result – thank you!

So what can you do now?

  • Attend parts of the Owens Farm Inquiry – from Tuesday 19th March, 10am. It really will help!
  • Print out the poster using the link in the email and display it in your window or at the front of your property.
  • Continue to watch out for and let us know about any signs of environmental, wildlife and traffic surveys or other indications of any developments around the village.
  • Please continue to spread the word about Hook Action Against Overdevelopment.  Encourage family, friends and neighbours to register for these updates at hookdevaction.org.uk/subscribe and follow us on Facebook.

Report incidents to Environment Agency

Environment Agency incident hotline
Telephone: 0800 80 70 60
24-hour service
Find out about call charges

Please call the Environment Agency incident hotline to report:

  • damage or danger to the natural environment
  • pollution to water or land
  • poaching or illegal fishing
  • dead fish or fish gasping for air
  • main rivers blocked by a vehicle or fallen tree causing risk of flooding
  • flooding from any river, stream, canal, natural spring or the sea
  • incidents at Environment Agency-regulated waste sites
  • illegal removals from watercourses
  • unusual changes in river flow
  • collapsed or badly damaged river or canal bank.

AGM notice

Annual General Meeting

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society is pleased to announce it will hold its Annual General Meeting on Friday 8th March 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at Heckfield Village Hall, RG27 0LG.

Agenda

A. Chairman’s Welcome

B. Reports on the Society’s work re the River and Local Development

C. Questions from Members will be welcome

D. Our guest speaker this year is Edward Bullen, Cambridge graduate, Yachtsman and Banker, who lives in the Whitewater Valley.  Edward will give a brief talk entitled “Trafalgar, the other Admirals”. This will include some lesser-known and fascinating information.

RSVP

We look forward to seeing you at this free evening for members, £10 for guests.

Members can return the RSVP slip with their membership fee for 2019.  Suggested membership subscription is £25 or £30.  All subscriptions are gratefully received; the subscription covers Members for two functions per annum, in addition to work being done by the Society.

Cheques should be made payable to the Whitewater Valley Preservation Society. Subscriptions should be sent to:

Mrs Sally Bullen,
Borough Court Farm,
Hartley Wintney,
Hampshire RG27 8JA

Alternatively, please email WVPS at ContactUs@WhitewaterValley.org.uk to notify us of your name and how many members and guests will be attending.  If you are applying for membership please remember to include your address and email address.

CPRE Hampshire meeting

Our Hart & Rushmoor countryside is a valuable resource – is it worth protecting?

CPRE Hampshire has kindly sent an open invitation to Whitewater Valley Preservation Society members to join them

on: Wednesday 24th October 2018 from 7pm

at: Church on the Heath, Elvetham Heath, Fleet, GU51 1 HA.

Join former CPRE Chairman Peter Wain and CPRE Hampshire for an evening of discussion about our countryside and have your say on future campaigns for the area.

Complimentary drink on arrival.

To book your free place, please visit CPRE Hampshire, email admin@cprehampshire.co.ukor call 01962 841897.

CPRE Hampshire is the Hampshire branch of CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Loddon Rivers Week

A wide variety of events are planned by the Loddon Catchment Partnership in the run up to World Rivers Day on September 30th.

Loddon Rivers Week runs from 24th to 30th September. Events include channel improvements and bank protection on the River Whitewater at Bassetts Mead.

To find out more and book your place check out the programme here.

LoddonRiversWeek poster

Loddon Rivers Week_ Booking Programme

Riverfly Survey Results 2017

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society (WVPS) has been engaged by South East Water as a consultee in the production of the last two 5-year Water Resource Management Plans.  The Society has actively been involved with the Environment Agency and Natural England in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the production of the Loddon Catchment Management Plans.  We also campaigned for the river during Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy reviews and subsequent Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programmes, which finally resulted in a decision by Natural England that South East Water could no longer assume long term abstraction from the Greywell source.

The River Whitewater may look clean and beautiful but appearances can be deceptive.  Clear does not necessarily mean healthy.

WVPS, in conjunction with Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, selected 5 locations suitable for their Riverfly survey, from the source at Greywell to the confluence with the Blackwater at Riseley.

The detailed results were analysed at a laboratory and a series of charts produced, using data collected from other chalk streams to suggest conclusions which could be drawn from those comparisons.

Invertebrate scores in the Whitewater are all low for a river of this type:

  • EPT scores – Ephemeroptera (up-winged flies), Plecoptera (stoneflies) and Trichoptera (caddisflies) – should be around 20, but the highest is 13, and one location scores only 6.
  • Annual Mayfly species should score 10 but the actual scores were 7, 5, 3, 2 and 1.

Biometric measures use the different sensitivities of aquatic insects to subtle, but lethal, impacts from: sediment, phosphate, organic enrichment and river flow. Species level analysis provides a measure of the impact of these pollutants at each site:

  • Results show that most sites exhibit sediment pressure in Spring and Autumn.
  • Phosphate issues are more pronounced in the Autumn and are at or above the line of concern at two sites (Deptford Lane Bridge and Holdshott Farm).
  • Organic Enrichment from slurry and possibly untreated effluent is visible at all sites.
  • Autumn results reflect the impact of lower flows concentrating the sediment and phosphate load, although the Spring results are not much better.

The full WVPS 2017 Riverfly Survey final report includes a map showing sampling sites, and Appendix showing in more detail the 10 measures of ecological status used to analyse each sample.

Deer Park proposal environmental impact

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society is concerned about potential impacts on the natural environment of a proposal to develop the Deer Park, Odiham.

A renewed application has been submitted to develop the historic Deer Park (Hart planning applications reference 17/03029/FUL).  The Deer Park provides open green space between Odiham, running down towards the River Whitewater as it flows through North Warnborough.

WVPS has made an objection on the basis that, if permitted, this development would harm the natural environment of the River Whitewater and its valley.  Particular concerns expressed by WVPS include the potential adverse impacts on Wildlife and Biodiversity, the quality of the Riverine Environment, Flood Risk and Conservation Areas around the river and its valley.

WVPS AGM on Friday 16 March

The Whitewater Valley Preservation Society held its 2018 Annual General Meeting at Heckfield Village Hall at 6.30 pm.  The packed meeting enjoyed a lively agenda including:

  • Chairwoman’s Welcome
  • Salmon & Trout Conservation UK’s Riverfly Survey – summary of findings
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • General Data Protection Regulations – requirements
  • Rural Hart Association – introduction and key concerns about the Hart District Council Local Plan currently under consultation
  • Election of the Committee
  • Questions from the floor and Any Other Business
  • Guest Speaker – Julian Seaman.

If you are interested in joining our Society please do not hesitate to email ContactUs@WhitewaterValley.org.uk .