Tag Archives: Catchment Partnerships

World Rivers Day

What is World Rivers Day?

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways and it takes place on the last Sunday in September each year. 

We rely on rivers for more than you may realise. Rivers around the world provide us with freshwater to drink, wash and to water our crops. They were (and still are) a source of power. We use them as a mode of transport both for industry and for our recreation. On top of these, they are the many more ecological services that rivers and their ecosystems provide us.

Given how much we rely on rivers, it’s clear that we cannot impact our local river systems without ultimately impacting our own health and well-being.  With many of our rivers facing an uncertain future, it is all the more important we celebrate them and raise awareness of the key issues they’re up against.  

How to celebrate?

Across our area, lots of partners are planning to celebrate World Rivers Day in many different ways. Have a scroll below and see what’s to offer in your local area.

Loddon Rivers Week – Monday 18th to Sunday 24th September

This years Loddon Rivers Week is timed to coincide with World Rivers Day on Septenber 24th – supported by Thames Water and the Rivers & Wetland Community Days fund.
During this week, and on the day itself the Loddon Catchment Partnership are inviting people who are curious about their rivers to come along to watch, help and learn about some of the activities that can help our rivers become healthier places with thriving wildlife.

River Mole Discovery Day

Join the Mole Partnership in Leatherhead on World Rivers Day (24th September, remember?) to celebrate the Mole and discover the secrets of the river.

Lots of activities for families too!

To download the event flyer, click here.

Wandle Fortnight

A two-week long celebration of the River Wandle – with over 60 events to choose from and plenty to pick on World Rivers Day itself.

The full programme can be found here. 

World Rivers Day on the Hogsmill

Join the Hogsmill Partnership on World Rivers Day to celebrate the wonderful Hogsmill river. There will be bird watching, pond dipping, crafts, wildlife talks and much more going on at the Hogsmill Nature Reserve in Berrylands.

Download the full leaflet here. 

A new, exciting project to improve water quality on the Beverley Brook

So you know that the roads can be pretty dirty. You see the direct effects of it on your car when you think it’s probably time to give it a clean. The dirt on the roads is also really well illustrated when it snows and soon the pure white snow changes to black slush. But where does all of this dirt come from?

You see trucks and lorries leaking oil and busses belching out thick clouds of exhaust fumes when pulling away from traffic lights. You see gulley pots full of litter, cigarette butts and sand that has run off the nearest building site. Or the paint that is dripped out of vans or has been poured into the curb. You walk along the street dodging ‘dog eggs’ which litter the pavement. Then in winter the roads get spread with grit and salt during cold snaps.

You may consider of all of these things as unsightly or unpleasant when on the roads, but within a short period of time and with a bit of rain, all of these substances are washed away and are out of sight and out of mind. But where does it disappear to?

The answer: often the nearest watercourse.

The initial runoff, known as the ‘first flush’, runs black especially in urban areas. In turn with many other outfalls also discharging the entire river turns black.

First flush on the River Wandle, South East Rivers Trust

So what is in this run-off?

Basically it consists of a nasty cocktail containing pieces of the road surface, tyres, brake pads and other material from engine parts from regular wear. Throw into the mix some fuel, gear oil, grease, brake fluid and antifreeze. Then for good measure add some pesticides, fertilisers, plant detritus, some illicit dumping of substances, inputs from misconnected drains and in winter de-icing grit and salt.

Unsurprisingly road runoff can be detrimental to the receiving watercourse, whose impacts on riverine ecology can be acute or chronic. The sediment smothers gravels vital for invertebrates and fish. The turbid water reduces light penetration so plant communities suffer due to limited photosynthesis. Furthermore, the sediment blocks the feeding mechanisms of filter feeders and gills of other aquatic organisms.

The Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (oils) and heavy metals are both known to be toxic to aquatic fauna. High concentrations of heavy metals associated with the ‘first flush’ can ‘shock’ aquatic environments as the water is polluted with levels several times higher the normal concentration. Multiple studies have shown that heavy metals can also cause long term impacts as they bio-accumulate within the food chain.

So what can we do?

It is well known that these contaminants freely bind to sediment. It therefore follows that if the sediment is removed, so too will many of the contaminants. This is the plan to protect the Beverley Brook in Richmond Park.

The Project

The Rivers Trust and WWF are managing three water management projects in the Thames and South East River Basins, for the benefit of both people and wildlife. The wider initiative is funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation and contributes to Coca-Cola’s promise to safely return the full amount of water used in finished beverages and their production to communities and nature by 2020 – an ongoing commitment as they managed to reach this goal five years ahead of target. Globally Coca-Cola works in over 2000 communities and supports more than 248 community water partnership projects in over 71 countries – this being one of them.

A schematic of how a Downstream Defender works

We are delighted to announce that the South East Rivers Trust is delivering one of these three projects which will see a large (and I mean very large) silt trap, known as a Downstream Defender® supplied by Hydro International, installed onto a surface water drain. The drain currently carries run-off from the incredibly urban surrounding catchment directly into the Beverley Brook. The Downstream Defender will trap a large portion of the sediment and associated contaminants, preventing them from reaching the Beverley Brook. Intermittently the trap will be emptied with a gulley sucker and the toxic sludge removed to landfill. Consequently, the health of the river will improve making it a better place for both wildlife and people.

Last Tuesday we launched this collaborative project with the arrival of the Downstream Defender to Richmond Park. We’d like to thank our funders, the Coca-Cola Foundation, as well as all our partners including WWF, The Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency, The Royal Parks, the Friends of Richmond Park and Thames Water. Also a big thank you to Hydro International for supplying the Downstream Defender and for their much appreciated contributions to the launch event. Thank you to all the guys at Kenward Groundworks; Tony, Matt, Dave, Mark and Woody for all your efforts with installing the chamber. And finally thanks to John Sutton from Clearwater Photography for taking photograph of the launch and project.

Partners with the Downstream Defender Silt Trap

 

Celebrating the launch of the project with partners and volunteers

Photos: John Sutton, Clearwater Photography

 

Keep up to date with the Hogsmill

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There is a new newsletter for anyone interested in or involved with the health of the Hogsmill. It summarises the results of River Monitoring Initiative (RMI) sampling together with other pollution monitoring and activities and events along the river.

Hogsmill Newsletter March 2017

If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter please contact:  Peter Short: rpetershort@hotmail.com

Volunteers Join Forces for the Hogsmill

The Hogsmill river doesn’t know how lucky it is!

Last week, 30 volunteers joined SERT and ZSL at London Zoo for the 2017 Hogsmill Forum.

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The Forum is an opportunity for us and ZSL to say thank you to all the volunteers who help us with our projects on the Hogsmill – Pollution Patrol and the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.

It is also a chance to share wider plans for the river with the local community,  discussing ideas and actions for the coming year; all of which feed in to the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership which SERT host.

If you are interested in either project, get in touch – volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org

And why not have a read of these presentations which our speakers delivered through the course of the day?

Presentations:

Many thanks to ZSL for hosting us, and for letting us have a look around the zoo after the meeting!

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Improvement Works on the River Dour

By Chris Gardner

In 2015 the South East Rivers Trust was awarded a £31k grant through the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF) to deliver fish passage and habitat improvements on the River Dour in Dover. All these improvements would be designed to increase the health and resilience of the river environment for fish and other species, to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive.

River Dour an Urban Chalkstream

The River Dour is a short (4 km) little chalkstream that rises in a rural setting but soon flows through the highly urban centre of Dover. This delightful little river boasts a healthy brown trout population, but the habitat is highly degraded due to urbanisation and impounded / fragmented due to a legacy of watermills.

A spotty brown trout

We assessed the urban part of the catchment by walkover survey, looking for potential projects. These were then prioritised on a cost-benefit basis, resulting in four sites where fish and eel passage could be addressed. Two were simple fish and eel passage easements and two were sites for eel passes.

The ruins of the old water mill at Minnis Lane.

Work began in October 2015 with a volunteer event at Minnis Lane near the aptly named village of River. An old watermill ruin at the site presented a complete barrier to fish and eel passage. The main part of the weir was very high and a fish pass here would have been way beyond the budget available. However, a parallel channel had one small step weir and an over wide shallow section of channel upstream that made this route impassable. To make this passable to fish and eels, we fitted a wooden box to the downstream end of the small step weir had a wooden box, to raise the water level up the step so fish could navigate it. We also used faggot bundles as flow deflectors to define a deeper channel through the over wide shallow section. Many thanks to Anita for helping to organise the volunteers and to the volunteers for their hard work! You know who you are!

Fixing in the faggot budles at Minnis Lane

In May 2016, we also fitted two eel passes to Halfords Weir and Lorne Road weirs. These are large weir structures that will require technical fish passes in the future to make them passable to fish, but eel passes were achievable with the budget we had available. The Halfords weir site was quite straightforward – the setup of the weir allowed a simple gravity-fed pass to be fitted. Eel passes allow eels to move over weirs through a piece of conduit which contains brush bristles that provide a crawling medium. Water passes through the pass to provide attraction flow and passes are located at the edge of the weir as studies have shown that eels predominantly use river margins as migration corridors.

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The Lorne Road site was more complicated, because this eel pass needed to go up and over the weir, so a gravity-fed option wasn’t appropriate. Instead, we designed this pass to be fed with a water pump to provide attraction flow. Many thanks to Malcolm and Mick at the Lorne Road Mill building who allowed us to tap into their power supply! Also many thanks to Paul and Simon for their work building the passes – your help was very much appreciated.

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We delivered the final aspect of the project later in spring 2016. Morrison’s weir (near Morrison’s supermarket) presented a barrier to juvenile life stages of trout and eel. To improve its pass-ability, the weir was notched in the middle to provide a streaming flow that fish can swim up, instead of a small drop and a thin plunging flow that fish can’t easily negotiate. Bristles were also fitted into the notch so eel could climb up.

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Wise words from Baton Path Mural

Three Weirs: Part 3

Author: Nick Hale, Project Officer

Read Part 1 and Part 2 first!

And so 3 weirs fell!

Gatehouse, Weir 1

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New Lodge, Weir 2

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and Dairyhouse, Weir 3

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Watch the video of their removal here:

A total of approximately 250 tonnes of concrete and steel was removed from the river.

Removing the three weirs has unimpounded over 1 km of channel. By reconnecting these previously isolated sections of river, just over 3 km of this part of the Lesser Teise is now fully passable for fish!

Increased flow velocity and diversity has already seen the return of natural processes such as erosion and deposition. The mix of deeper and shallower areas will create a range of habitat niches for invertebrates and fish etc.

Directly upstream of the former weirs, the flows have begun to rework the river bed and gravel berms until its natural gradient is restored (as before the weirs were introduced). A previously drowned-out ‘in channel’ meander sequence has exposed gravel riffles, berms and mid channel bars.

These gravels will be continually reworked in a downstream direction, being replaced by new material from upstream. The well-oxygenated gravel riffles will become ideal spawning habitat for both salmonid and coarse fish like brown trout and chub.

A number fish were identified during the works with species including brown trout, minnow, bullhead, stone loach, gudgeon, dace, roach, perch, pike, brook lamprey and barbel.

This stretch of historically dredged river is typically characterised by steep/vertical banks with little or no marginal habitat. This project has exposed an abundance of berms and marginal features that given time will be transformed into a diverse marginal habitat.

Removing the weirs has eliminated the landowners’ responsibility for the upkeep of the structures and saved costs on the twice a year maintenance visits from the EA to maintain the signage and clear blockages in the channel.

What’s next?

We will be monitoring the river over the next few years to record how the project develops. It will be interesting to see how the higher flows over the winter months rework all the gravels.

In the spring we will sow some native marginal plant seed mix on the lower banks of our structures and take some more photos for the next blog.

A BIG thanks to must go to the landowners, Ian Johnstone and the Kent High Weald Partnership and the Environment Agency for all their help!

The Three Weirs: Part 2

Author: Nick Hale, Project Officer

Read Three Weirs part 1 here.

After many months of planning the project we were finally able to start the fun part and get on the riverbank!

The first job was to take delivery of all the machines and equipment such as the 15m long reach excavator and wheeled dumpers.  Access to the site was quite tricky but having a good delivery driver is always good!

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Mike our excavator driver was raring to go but first we had to install our sediment control features, marker posts to measure changes in water levels/river bed level and also take a few photos for comparison.

It was great to finally get the breaker attached onto the machine and begin breaking out the concrete. The centre of the channel was broken up first, and then the sides.

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breaking-out-concrete

The weirs were certainly well built! Sheet piling had been installed at the up/downstream ends of each weir to key it into the riverbed and act as the formwork when casting the concrete. Lots of 6mm steel rebar had been used to provide extra strength, and in some places the concrete was almost 1m thick.

Removal of the sheet pilling was quite a challenge at the first weir, with the downstream section being 1.8m in length.

Mike gradually broke up the weirs into manageable pieces, which were loaded into the wheeled dumpers and transported to the collection site. A local company was contracted to collect the waste material using grab lorries. Each weir was made up of about 80 tonnes of concrete which was about 5 grab lorry loads per weir.

concrete

Chestnut faggots were secured with chestnut posts (both locally sourced) to form the line of the new bank.

A marginal shelf of site-won soil was then encased in coir matting behind the faggots and secured to the banks with oak pegs. We will come back to plant these up in the spring.

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With high spirits and with the weather thankfully on our side, we tracked up the bank to do battle with the next two weirs. Although the construction of each was similar, each site posed its own challenges. However one by one they fell, with all three weirs being removed and banks reinstated in a three week period, reinstating flows and passage for the first time in over half a century.

The benefits of the work were made clear before we had even pulled out of the site. We saw numerous fish passing the previous barrier to explore the stretch upstream.

Look out for our third and final blog on the Three Weirs Project to see some before and after photos and the timelapse video!

The Three Weirs: Part 1

Author: Nick Hale, Project Officer

An Environment Agency assessment of the Teise and Lesser Teise, two tributaries of the Medway in Kent, indicated there is a problem with wild fish stocks in the river.  Generally there is an absence and/or low abundance of key expected species such as brown trout, chub, predatory perch and pike, roach and stone loach.

In fact, the situation is probably even worse than this assessment indicates as a large proportion of the fish caught here are derived from artificial stocking, masking the figures of the wild population.

So what can be done about it?

One major contributing factor to these poor wild fish populations is the presence of barriers to fish migration: weirs. Weirs fragment the available habitat, prevent fish from reaching spawning grounds and change the geomorphology of the river channel as well. (For a reminder about the pros and cons of weirs, our very own Dr Chris Gardner wrote an excellent article recently on how weirs affect fish communities).

The Medway Catchment Partnership have been looking at barriers to fish migration in a bid to address this on a catchment scale. As a start, last year we successfully removed Harper’s Weir, restoring fish passage to a 3.5 km stretch of the River Teise. However, if you travel downstream, you are confronted by more and more weirs.

The Three Weirs Project looked to tackle a set of three weirs on the Lesser Teise, continuing this great work.

Where are the Three Weirs?

The Three Weirs, named Gatehouse (1), New Lodge (2) and Dairyhouse (3) are located on a 1.2 km stretch of the Lesser Teise near Chainhurst, Kent. All three are concrete weirs, likely originally installed in the mid-20th century for the purposes of agricultural land management.

weirs

What ecological benefits will result from removing the weirs?

The presence of a weir creates an impounding effect whereby the upstream water levels are much higher than normal.  This drowns out any natural features within the channel making it more like a canal than a river.

Impounded channel upstream of Dairyhouse Weir.

Impounded channel upstream of Dairyhouse Weir.

Removing the 3 weirs will increase the hydromorphological diversity (flow and river bed structure) of this stretch of river. Natural processes such as sediment transport and gravel mobilisation will return, exposing a range of original channel features like gravel berms and meanders. For example, the removal of Harpers Weir revealed 16 new riffles.

Ecological benefits will be seen both upstream and downstream of the existing weirs with salmonid and coarse fish being able to migrate through this previously unpassable stretch, improving their ability to carry out their full life cycle and ultimately increasing their chances of survival.

Localised improvements in water quality through faster, low flow conditions will reduce the build-up of ammonia and phosphates and increase dissolved oxygen to support a wider range of invertebrates. To capture these changes, an invertebrate survey has been undertaken by Robert Aquilina at specific locations along the proposed works area.  This process will be repeated in September 2017 to record any changes in diversity and abundance of the invertebrate community living within the channel.

In preparation for full removal, the wooden boards that were fixed to the crest of all 3 weirs were removed in 2015 with help of the Environment Agency. This reduced some of the impounding effect and allowed the channel upstream to adjust and stabilise prior to a complete removal of the structures in the future.

The next step now is to remove the weirs, but you’ll have to wait for part 2 to find out all about that!

In the news: MPs demand overhaul of Environment Agency to protect communities from rising flood risk

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Source: www.getreading.co.uk

Winter is on the way – and makes this report on future flood prevention from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (released today) very timely.  Today’s report, ‘Future flood prevention’, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/115/115.pdf  builds on previous works such as ‘Floods and Dredging – a reality check’  from CIWEM
http://ciwem.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Floods-and-Dredging-a-reality-check.pdf   and others, recognising that in many cases, traditional approaches to managing flood risk are not only unaffordable and unsustainable – they don’t always work and are neither, the only – nor, sometimes, the best solution.

The report highlights how a catchment wide approach is central to achieving an affordable and sustainable response to flooding in a more populated future, facing the consequences of climate change.

The Catchment based approach (CaBA) https://www.catchmentbasedapproach.org/   and Catchment Partnerships are well placed to drive this forward and deliver real solutions to communities not able to benefit from more traditional ‘hard engineered’ and expensive schemes. Existing Catchment Partnerships have developed strong links between local communities, local authorities, the Environment Agency, wildlife trusts and large institutions such as water companies and local industries, and are already delivering projects that enhance and protect our precious water resources and habitats; using a holistic approach to achieve multi-benefit solutions.

At the South East Rivers Trust, we are proud to host and co-host river catchments across the South East, and are increasingly involved in projects addressing local flood issues. In September, the Loddon Catchment Partnership  http://www.loddoncatchment.org.uk  supported a resident-led workshop, hosted by the Loddon Basin Flood Action Group and the University of Reading, on the potential for natural flood management projects to help residents who are at risk of flooding in Berkshire.

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Although there is a need for more evidence to inform best practice (but see Wilkinson ME, Quinn PF, Welton P. (2010) Runoff management during the September 2008 floods in the Belford catchment, Northumberland. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 3(4)), schemes such as those described in the report have shown the potential to achieve cumulative benefits from linked, practical projects that use techniques as diverse as increasing the area of land that can absorb water by planting woodland, to creating extra water storage areas by installing ‘leaky dams’ of natural materials that slow and divert water during high flow events.

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Reproduced from Future Flood Prevention (EFRA Committee report)

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/115/115.pdf

It all makes so much sense! – BUT there are challenges. The report highlights that the key to the success – or even existence of these projects lies in taking the whole community along, and providing realistic payments to landowners whose livelihoods are affected by these schemes. In discussions at our Cuckmere and Pevensey Catchment Partnership meeting http://www.cplcp.org.uk  farmers stressed the need for these payments to be an ongoing income stream, rather than one-off payments that do not reflect changes to their business model. This necessity is also highlighted in the report along with the criticism that government response to flooding has been reactive rather than pro-active, resulting from too short time scales for meaningful, strategic planning.

Improving communications across all areas of local planning is also essential. Highlighting the potential for new developments to embrace these methods can only help mitigate against the effects of yet more impermeable roofs, roads and pavements contributing to localised surface flooding.

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Source: BBC Berkshire.

Outfall Safari on the Hogsmill

ZSL and the Hogsmill Partnership are looking for volunteers to help us map polluted outfalls on the Hogsmill this October.

While walking the Hogsmill you may have noticed all the different pipes that can be found along the river bank. These pipes are usually part of our surface water infrastructure, transporting clean water from our roads and roofs into the river. However in some cases, these pipes or outfalls can be polluting the Hogsmill as they have been misconnected.

Polluted Outfall

Misconnections are a BIG issue for urban rivers and the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership have been working hard to start addressing this on the Hogsmill River.

A misconnection is when a toilet or washing machine has been connected to the surface water drain heading straight to the river, instead of the sewer system. You can read more about misconnections at on the Connect Right website.

Connect Right

This October, ZSL are running an Outfall Safari to map all these pipes heading into the Hogsmill, and assessing their condition to check for misconnections.

Volunteers will receive training on how to recognise signs of pollution at these outfalls and record the pipes on a new smartphone app. This survey data will greatly improve our understanding of the river system and help to target sources of pollution.

Interested?

If you would like to join the team, you can sign up on EventBrite to register your interest. Once you’ve registered, more information will be sent to you about where and when the training sessions will take place.

Sign Me Up!

For more information contact by email: Joe.Pecorelli@ZSL.org, or phone: 07974 725 557
Outfall BannerPlease register your interest to help at: hogsmilloutfalls.eventbrite.co.uk

You’ll need to read this before your training session: 2016-Pre-training-information-for-Hogsmill-Outfall-Safari-Volunteers..pdf

Planting on the Beverley Brook

The Beverley Brook in Richmond Park has had a serious makeover recently. Through the Park, the river was severely overwide and slow moving, leaving a silty channel bed with little habitat variation for invertebrates and fish. Earlier this year, we undertook a large scale restoration project on a 600m stretch of the Brook – you can read all about what we did and why in Toby’s blog here.

Before and After Beverley Brook

Following this, we teamed up with the Friends of Richmond Park to plant trees along the banks of the Beverley Brook – providing shelter and shade in just the right amounts.

GetImage2The next step was marginal planting – so we called in some reinforcements…

Thanks to our successful bid to Tesco’s Bags of Help fund, we have been able to organise two planting days on the Beverley Brook – adding 6000 plants to the restored stretches of river. These will grow up to create great marginal habitats as well as replenish the seed bank of the river downstream.

Across the two days (Saturday 9th & 23rd April), we were joined by a total of 65 volunteers.  To start each day off, Toby gave a quick tour of the works so far while I colour coded the plants on where they should be planted. Blue plants were to be added on the water line, red and yellow to be in the marginal zone and green to be higher up the bank.

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We had ordered a variety of species, some of which are currently absent from the Brook due to the last couple of centuries of mans’ influences. We used similar and nearby rivers such as the Hogsmill and Wandle as a guide for what should be there and used historic evidence, such as Milais’s Ophelia, which was painted on the Hogsmill, to direct these choices. By planting in our fenced sections, we give the flora a chance to establish a seed bank ensuring they continue to flourish on the river for many years to come.

Ophelia 1851-2 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01506

Ophelia 1851-2 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01506)

With 65 volunteers and 6000 plants, everyone had a target of 92!

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Most of our planting was focused on the new berms created when Toby narrowed the river.

We also installed two kingfisher nest boxes along the banks of the brook. These boxes are specially designed for Kingfisher nesting. They are buried into the bank and lined with mud to allow the birds to create their nest more naturally.

Kingfisher Nest

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Big thank you to our volunteers: Abane, Ajith, Alana, Amanda, Anishka, Barbara, Bella, Bindu, Brandon C, Brandon O, Brian, Carolyn, Charles W, Charles C, Chris, Dave J, Dave W, David H, Ed, Edward, Eric, Gearoid, Graham, Guy, Harriet, Heather, Ian, Jane E, Jane P, Janet, Jill, John, Jon, Kish, Loredana, Lucy, Mariam, Mark, Matthew, Mike, Nicola, Path, Phil, Rhianna, Roger, Rosie, Sharika, Shivani, Steve, Vela, Victoria and Wally

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Planting

About Tesco Bags of Help

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative across Scotland, England and Wales. The scheme has seen three community groups and projects in each region awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge. Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public voted in store to decide which local groups should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.

The 2016 Hogsmill Forum

The Hogsmill River may have its problems, but it is one of the lucky urban rivers to have huge community support and many enthusiastic volunteers.

We run our Pollution Patrol on the Hogsmill, tracking down polluted outfalls and misconnections. While ZSL run the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative which uses the kick sampling of invertebrates to check for organic pollution.

So to thank everyone for their hard work, both projects combined for a joint Hogsmill Forum – kindly hosted by ZSL at London Zoo.

Hogs Forum

The event was a huge success with some really interesting discussions on the priorities for the Hogsmill going forward. Below you can download PDFs of the presentations.

Presentations:

 

The Beverley Brook Needs Your Vote!

Bags of HelpThe Beverley Brook Catchment Partnership have been successful in securing a Tesco grant from the Bags of Help fund – but we need your vote!

If you are shopping in the Sutton/Cheam area between now and Sunday 9th March, why not shop in a local Tesco store and give your vote to our project?

With your votes, we could get an extra £4000 to the project! The money will be used to make improvements to the Beverley Brook through Richmond Park following our recent restoration works. There will even be community planting days which you could get involved in.

So what are you waiting for, go vote for Project Two: Richmond Park River Enhancements!

Our Project

 

Tree Planting in Richmond Park

I am sure you have all been following the progress in Richmond Park with our Beverley Brook Restoration Project. Well now that the main channels works have been completed, we were ready to move on to the next stage: tree planting.

Tree Planting

Adding the right number of trees along the channel is crucial to restoring the habitat. Trees provide excellent cover for fish from predation, the shade they create helps to keep the river cool in the summer months, they provide habitat for birds and insects and the seeds as a food source. However too much shade can prevent marginal, emergent and submerged plant growth, so a balance has to be struck.

On a sunny February morning we were joined by seven volunteers from Friends of Richmond Park to plant nearly 200 trees along the two restored sections on the Beverley Brook.

To ensure we got it right, Toby (Senior Projects Officer at SERT) had worked closely with Royal Parks’ Julia (Head of Ecology) to map out where each species should be planted and how many.

More Trees

Tree species planted included several types of willow (white, grey, osier and goat) as well as alder, black poplar, blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, birch and elm. All trees were given a protection from grazing and from high flows to give them the best chance at establishing. Given the flashy nature of the Beverley Brook, those trees planted closer to the channel were given some extra protection from strong flows with a large stake providing cover.

More trees

Next on the agenda for this project is to add plants to the marginal habitats in April. Watch this space and come and get involved!

Big thank you to our volunteers from Friends of Richmond Park: Brian, Ian, Janet, Jed, Mike, Roger and Simon.

Lovely gravels

Restoration to the Beverley Brook in Richmond Park (Phase 1)

The write up of the introduction to the project can be viewed here.

I have now returned from being out at Richmond Park delivering the first phase of restoration to the Beverley Brook in Richmond Park. It has been a while and lots has happened which I am keen to share. I suggest you make a cuppa, take a seat and get comfy.

The Beverley Brook possesses incredibly flashy characteristics due to the urban nature of the river with a significant proportion of the catchment being coated in hard, impermeable paving. With the plan to be on-site for seven weeks through the British autumn undertaking a significant amount of in-channel works to 600 m of river, we were firmly in the hands of the weather once again.

The aim of the project is to enhance the heavily degraded, uniform and generally inhospitable channel so that it would be more inviting to the native fauna and flora that should be present and abundant.

A sorry state at the start of the project

A sorry state at the start of the project

Before the works started we undertook a range of monitoring to capture the baseline condition of the river. These will be vital and incredibly interesting to refer to in the years to come to demonstrate the effectiveness of the project. The monitoring included a two day fish survey undertaken by the Environment Agency, habitat mapping, aquatic invertebrate and plant surveys, sediment analysis and novelly for us, a drone recorded aerial video and photography of the site with some exciting low fly-over manoeuvres.

Drone in Action

Drone action

The work then commenced. With the help from the Aquamaintain guys once again and with Trevor behind the controls of the long reach excavator, we set about spicing up the bland channel. The key to this was variety. A variety of flow types, a variety of channel widths, depths and bank profiles. By adding diversity, a mosaic of habits would be created, providing for  a range of species throughout their life stages.

When discussions about the project first started with the Royal Parks a year or so ago, I could not believe my ears when they announced that there was no shortage of trees and rootwads we could source from the Park to use in the river. With this rare offer, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. With the help of Mick Baker, the Park’s go to forester, dozens and dozens of oak trees were felled (I must add this is as part of the Park’s management regime), the root balls dug up and all carried down to the river by the mighty forwarder (tractor).

Rootwads and LWM ready to be used

Rootwads and LWM ready to be used

Some of the LWM stockpile seen from the air

Some of the LWM stockpile seen from the air

Mick bringing down another load of oak tree tops

Mick bringing down another load of oak tree tops

The wood was introduced to the river in a variety of methods to perform a number of tasks. In places, masses of the tree tops and smaller limbs were stacked up against the bank extending between a third to half way across the channel. These were compacted with the huge force of the excavator and then secured with posts and fencing wire. This technique reduces the channel width to give the river more energy whilst providing complex habitat both above and below the water line. Furthermore, the dense network of branches creates slack water, encouraging silt to drop out whilst also capturing leaves and seeds. Overtime, these structures will consolidate and vegetate to form a new bank. By alternating the bank these are constructed on, a meandering sequence is created in conjunction with the next method, backfilled faggots.

Tree tops and brash in the foreground before being compressed and secured

Tree tops and brash in the foreground before being compressed and secured

Faggots (brash bundles) are fixed to the bed with posts and wire to create the new bank line, again reducing the channel width in places from 7 metres down to 2.5. The steep banks are then regraded and the spoil placed behind the faggots to produce low lying berms which in time will become wetlands when marginal plants establish.

Faggots with incorporated LWM being used to narrow the over-wide channel

Faggots with incorporated LWM being used to narrow the over-wide channel before being backfilled with the regraded banks

Protruding out of the tree tops and faggot berms, larger tree trunks, rootwads and multi-limbs (Large Woody Material, LWM) where fixed into place, extending out across the channel.

Rootwads providing complex cover

Rootwads providing complex cover with a backfilled faggot berm behind

Doing so is a great way to not only provide complex cover but is also a way to reinstate energy back to the river. As water rushes over, under and past the structures, the bed is scoured, creating deeper holes and throwing up the cleaned gravels into shoals and bars. This is a truly rewarding aspect of the work, identifying where and how to place the wood. Even under low flows, the impact can be felt immediately with the gravels being kicked up around your feet. A day later, the bed downstream is glowing with gravels as opposed to the previous uniform blanket covering of sand. And again, after higher flows, features are carved out and created.

LWM immediatley forming holes, shoals and riffles

LWM immediatley forming holes, shoals and riffles

The banks were also naturalised as we progressed downstream. The steep gradient was reduced where possible to provide transitional areas between the terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Intermittently, hugely over-engineered concrete headwalls with tiny two inch blocked land drains poking out scared the bank. Being redundant, these were removed with a total of 20 tonnes of concrete being mucked-away from site.

Another concrete headwall being removed

Another concrete headwall being removed

Significant regrading of the perched banks to form a wide wetland area on an inside meander, soon to be planted

Significant regrading of the perched banks to form a wide wetland area on an inside meander, soon to be planted

A key aspect of the project is to restrict deer access to the channel. To do this the entire 600m length which is divided into two sections was fenced off. However, to prevent them accessing the stretches by simply walking up the channel, we had to construct river gates at the ends of the sections. In a river as deeply incised and flashy as the Beverley Brook is here, this took some doing. We ordered in several chunky telegraph poles. Some were cut and notched to form half jointed A-frames. These were positioned in deep holes high up on the banks. Mounted onto these, the excavator lifted 12 metre telegraph poles to span the channel. From these using stainless steel eye bolts and chains, oak gates from wood sourced and milled in the Park and manufactured by our good friend, Norm Fairey were hung. The principle being that the river gates prevent deer passing but importantly not causing a debris build up.

A section of the 600m of fencing which has been erected

A section of the 600m of fencing which has been erected

The moment of truth, the telegraph pole spans the 12m gap before the braces are removed from the A-frames and the holes are filled with concrete

The moment of truth, the telegraph pole spans the 12m gap before the braces are removed from the A-frames and the holes are filled with concrete

Jack standing back and admiring one of the three telegraph pole river gates completed

Jack standing back and admiring one of the three telegraph pole river gates completed

A conveniently placed bridge provides the structure for the fourth set of gates

A conveniently placed bridge provides the structure for the fourth set of gates

The last task was to create a deer and dog access point. These access points prevent the banks being eroded (poached) with the subsequent input of sediment to the channel. The banks were regraded to a shallower angle and first armoured with 20 tonnes of gabion stone and then covered with compacted scalpings.

Access point in the foreground with the most downstream river gates behind marking the end of the restored section or river

Access point in the foreground with the most downstream river gates behind marking the end of the restored section or river

As I mentioned at the beginning, we were needing the autumn weather to be kind to us. Who could believe it? Throughout the first three and a half weeks we barely had a drop, allowing great progress with the in-channel works and with ground conditions holding up well. After that, we did lose a couple of days due to rain and the spatey flows but I considered we had been lucky and gratefully accepted it.

The New Year has provided the first heavy flows. I managed to get down to the river yesterday and waded the length inspecting how things are bedding in.  I am pleased to say that the restoration has certainly been successful in the aim of providing variety. With more energy, the river at last has active functioning processes.

Before, blandness!

Before, blandness!

And after, variety is the spice of life!

And after, variety is the spice of life!

The Large Woody Material is scouring holes with loose gravel riffles forming downstream. The bed on outside of the meanders is deepening with large deposits of sediment forming shallow berms on the inside. The tree tops are accumulating sediment and consolidating quickly. The water’s surface is rippled and broken making the river audible once again. Even whilst doing the work, each morning a walk up the river demonstrated the immediate effectiveness with dace and chub taking up residence in new lies and pools where before there were none. I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing how the river adjusts and naturalises over the coming weeks, months and years.

So moving on, next month we start addressing diffuse urban pollution entering into the Brook from the A3 by digging a sediment trap and creating two wetlands. We are also having our first of several planting days. This one introducing trees to the river banks to provide shade and Large Woody Material in the future. We will keep you posted.

There are so many people to thank. The funders; The Friends of Richmond Park, The Royal Parks, the Environment Agency and the Beverley Brook Catchment Partnership. And those that helped out;  Simon, Julia and Adam at The Royal Parks, the guys at Aquamaintain; Ben, Dave, Jack, Zac, Lloyd and Roo. Trevor from Land & Water  in the machine, Norm Fairey, Curling Fencing Contractors, Mick Baker, Andy Birnie, Colin Hampton, Luke and his drone, the list goes on. Thank you all.

 

Fish Passage on the Cuckmere

We have been working in partnership with the Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Partnership to deliver a fish passage project at Sessingham Weir on the Cuckmere.

The weir currently causes an impassable barrier to fish, preventing them from accessing all the habitat required for a healthy lifecycle. This in turn can make fish less resilient to other pressures such as pollution and climate change.

Many fish species thought of as being non-migratory will in fact, given the opportunity, make substantial movements within a river system, particularly to find good spawning habitat. In unobstructed rivers, species such as roach may move 10’s of kilometers. By making the weir passable to fish, we will reconnect approximately 6.2 km of valuable habitat upstream and downstream.

Unfortunately due to the presence of a water pipe running underneath the weir it cannot be fully removed. In September we permanently lowered the weir blade and have already seen some fantastic habitat improvements such as increased flow diversity.

Before and After at Sessingham Weir

We are now planning to remove the redundant weir gate and are designing a solution to make the weir passable to fish.

Action on the River Teise!

We’ve started our project on the River Teise to make a weir passable for fish migration.

Weirs were introduced years ago to help control the flow of water, allowing our ancestors to operate mills. Nowadays many remain in rivers despite no longer being required.

Weirs are a barrier to fish passage and leave the habitat fragmented with fish populations isolated. In the event of pollution or other presures like climate change, these isolated populations are at greater risk with nowhere to escape to.

Although being a barrier to fish migration is a significant problem, weirs also interrupt the natural flow of rivers, resulting in a degradation of habitat. Upstream of weirs, water is slowed down which causes silt to drop out and accumulate in the channel.

This image from the Wild Trout Trust explains the effects of weirs on fish habitat:

WTT Weir

Funded through Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund, we’ve started works on a weir on the River Teise – where Olly and Rosie carefully removed a number of boards from the top of the weir.

Weir Board Removal

After removing the boards, the impounded water levels upstream dropped noticeably, revealing many natural features of the river which had been drowned out when the weir was put in place.

Before

Before

AfterAfter

New Habitats

Some of the diverse new habitat revealed by lower water levels above the weir

The next phase of the project is to remove the impoundment and enable full fish passage and habitat restoration, so watch this space!

Delivery on the Dour

Last month, we ventured all the way to Dover to start delivery of our River Dour Restoration Project.

The Dour is a short river, roughly 4 km in length, which runs into the sea at Dover Harbour.

We were addressing fish passage at a weir near Kearsney Abbey at Minnis Lane. Here the Dour runs through a ruined building, causing blockages to fish passage with the presence of several small weirs. The river itself has started to create its own bypass channel and our aim was to enhance this channel to allow fish passage upstream of the site.

Minnis Lane Site

Installing Brash BundlesTo do this, we installed brash deflectors to concentrate the flow of water to a narrower section, ensuring there was enough flow for fish to swim up without becoming stranded.

We were joined by 6 local volunteers on the day to help us install 12 brash deflectors in the stream.

Each deflector was secured in place with hazel posts and wire to ensure they stayed in place in higher flows.

By placing the deflectors so that they’re pointing upstream, we directed the flow of water into the middle of the channel, creating a deeper section for fish and eels to swim up.

We will be back to finish the site off soon and see how our deflectors are working.

Many thanks to our volunteers who helped on the day: Bethany, Katharine, Lilian, Ray, Simon and Tom. And a big thank you to the local Scout Club for letting us park our van in their carpark.

So before….

Before 1Before..

Before 2

After!

After 1

After..

After 2

The Catchment Based Approach in action: Natural flood risk management in Stroud

When it comes to protecting communities from the worst impacts of natural disasters like the recent floods in Cumbria, York and Manchester, it’s easy to feel a little helpless in the face of global-scale influences like El Nino and the possible effects of climate change.

But as one of the warmest and wettest Decembers on record spills over into a grey and soggy January, and flood risk management continues to dominate the national conversation, here’s a fascinating case study that shows how local communities can use the Catchment Based Approach to make a real difference in their local area.

This video from Stroud District Council shows how residents are working with landowners further up the Frome catchment to slow the flow of heavy rainfall down these steep valleys, using natural materials to hold flood water back in the hills and preventing it from hitting vulnerable urban pinch-points all at once.

It’s a lot less expensive than many other heavy-engineering-and-dredging solutions to flood defence. And, as part of a community and catchment approach, it looks much more likely to succeed and be sustainable in the long term too…

Welcome to Chris: Our Catchment Manager

ChrisWe are pleased to welcome a new member of Staff to the South East Rivers Trust: Chris Gardner, our new Catchment Manager.

Chris has joined us with 17 years of experience as a fisheries scientist in both the public and private sectors. He has also led on a number of peer reviewed papers on fish migrations ranging from coarse fish in large lowland rivers to salmonids (trout and salmon) in chalk streams like the Wandle.

Chris will be helping us deliver the Catchment Based Approach across our area in the south east, working closely with our partners to deliver ecological benefits to our rivers and their catchments.

“I’m really looking forward to working in the third sector, delivering real improvements on the ground and monitoring the success of river rehabilitation by demonstrating the ecological response to such interventions.”

So welcome Chris!