Posts Tagged ‘swimming’

CROWDED WATERS

The Avon (Aune) Estuary is a priceless environmental asset. It is a County Wildlife Site and Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) with its shallow waters, extensive mudflats, and saltmarshes.  All of these features are of exceptional ecological value to important populations of fish, invertebrates, migratory birds and waterfowl.

It is vital these habitats remain undisturbed; educating all estuary users is a first step in managing these areas for the benefit of all.  Historically, the Avon Estuary has always been highly valued as a place for quiet contemplation and reflection on natural beauty.   We would ask all users of the estuary to respect these values: in these difficult times, they are more priceless than ever.

Thanks to COVID-19 and the imposition of Lockdowns restricting some forms of exercise, there has been an explosion in the popularity both of outdoor swimming and in the use of SUPs, canoes and kayaks.    Whilst it is good to see the estuary being enjoyed and appreciated by more of the public,  the unusual intensity of the recreational traffic on the water has highlighted the need for Codes of Conduct because the waters are becoming increasingly crowded with users of varying degrees of experience – some are complete novices and may pose a nuisance or even a danger to themselves, others and the environment.    Biosecurity is an ever present concern with the threat of the import of invasive species from other waterways on contaminated craft or wetsuits.    Suitable Codes are suggested on the following pages (see Navigation Bar on homepage: >CODES OF CONDUCT>OUTDOOR SWIMMING or >SUPs, CANOES & KAYAKS).

 

Recreational risks from river & estuary pollution of the Devon Avon (Aune)

The ACA has long been concerned about the potential hazards of recreational use of the Avon Estuary, despite it being swept by tides twice per day (>ECOLOGY>WATER QUALITY).   The Sewage Treatment Works at Aveton Gifford and other sources of pollution, as described in the Rivers Trust website (see link below) are unpredictable sources of water pollution.  Using rivers for swimming, paddling, fishing and playing is fantastically rewarding and good for our health, but like all outdoor sports, carries an element of risk. There is no public health monitoring of river water quality in the UK, so this map (see link below) will help river users weigh up the risk before taking to the water. It shows some of the sources of pathogens (bacteria or viruses) in rivers which can cause illnesses. The Rivers Trust is calling on all river users to join us in tackling these issues.

Use the Search box to find your location or zoom on the map to see the locations of discharges from the sewerage network which are entering rivers. Avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges, especially after it has been raining. Click the Legend and different symbol information buttons or click symbols on the map to popup information about the types of risks. Use the Layer List button to see other layers, including river flow direction so you can check whether the discharges are upstream of your location.

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a6dd42e3bc264fc28134c64c00db4a5b&extent=-401307.0872%2C6628364.5565%2C-130261.3849%2C6788576.5678%2C102100

 

Many factors are not possible to show on a map. These include timings and locations of agricultural pollutions, discharges from badly connected household appliances and hidden septic tanks which are not in our datasets. This is why we can never be 100% sure that a location is safe for swimming or recreational access.

A report from the Avon Estuary Forum of 3rd March 2020

The Avon Estuary Forum (AEF) is a biannual meeting of all those agencies and individuals with a relevant interest although discussions often include upstream matters that might affect the estuary.   The Forum is usually held in Thurlestone Parish Hall and anybody is welcome to attend.   If you’d like to be added to the mailing lists for alerts, please contact nigel.mortimer@southdevonaonb.org.uk.

 

The meeting on 3rd March was my second as Chairman and I have decided to provide occasional reports  to widen the information base beyond the distribution of the formal notes that are provided prior to our next meeting (on 13th October in this case).

 

Ryan Hooper (Estate Manager & Bantham Harbourmaster) announced that the Bantham Estate would continue the operation of the Avon Patrol in 2020, financed as previously by South Hams DC and the Bantham Estate, with voluntary contributions from the Aune Conservation Association (ACA), the Avon Valley Ski Club (AVSC) and the Duchy of Cornwall.   Last summer, the revamped patrol made a valuable contribution to the safety and security of many estuary users.

 

There was further discussion, without resolution, about possible improvements to the Bantham/Bigbury ferry operation and how these might tie in with changes to the England Coast Path proposals from Natural England, to the advantage of walkers and regional tourism.  Funding is one unsettled issue.

 

Public participation in several consultations was invited.  The first involves the South Devon Catchment Partnership and ‘Challenges and Choices’ (see – http://south-devon.org/challenges-and-choices/).  That consultation explains why water is such a vital resource, describes the challenges that threaten the water environment, explores how we can work together to manage our waters, looks at who should pay for the actions needed and, importantly, invites input on all these issues.  In that context, there was considerable discussion about river water quality and how standards can be maintained in the face of severe Environment Agency staff cuts. The second consultation, open until 6th April, (see – https://consult.defra.gov.uk/mmo/draft-south-west-inshore-and-offshore-marine-plans/) is about marine planning in the SW, including the Avon Estuary (now designated as a Marine Conservation Zone).  We also heard about proposed new ‘bag limits’ that might be imposed by the Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (IFCA) on the hand collection of foreshore species such as bait worms, scallops, cockles, mussels and limpets but the deadline for that consultation has now passed!

 

As a direct outcome of the meeting, I have contacted Devon & Severn IFCA about local reports of diseased crabs and lobsters by AVSC members.    It seems likely, from a brief Internet search and the description provided at our meeting, that these crustaceans might be the victims of ‘black spot’ disease – a bacterial infection (see picture obtained from the internet) .

Have any other ‘potters’ seen evidence of this disease locally?   Please let us know.

 

The Outdoor Swimming Association has told me that there will be a new event this year – the Bantham ‘Boomerang’ on Friday 3rd July, whereby swimmers will enter the water at Bantham beach at around 1630 and swim upstream with the tide.  All swimmers will turn with the tide at 18.00 (wherever they may be!) and return to Bantham – the last swimmers are expected to be out of the water by 20.00.  The Bantham ‘Swoosh’ will take place on Saturday 4th July, with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 06.00 and exiting at Bantham by 09.15.  Please beware of swimmers and let’s hope nobody will get a dose of ‘black spot’!

OUTDOOR SWIMMING EVENTS – AVON ESTUARY

A message from the Outdoor swimming Society:-
We wanted to once again notify you of the Swoosh swimming event which will be taking place on Saturday 4 July 2020 with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 6am and exiting at Bantham Beach by 9:15am.
We are also introducing a new swim in 2020: the Bantham Boomerang, to be held on Friday 3 July 2020. Swimmers will enter the water from Bantham beach at approximately 16:30 and swim upstream with the tide. All swimmers will turn with the tide at 18:00 (wherever they are in the river) and return to Bantham beach. We expect the last swimmer to be out of the water by 20:00.
We are once again working very closely with Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the Bantham Estate on these events. We will be having another 7 swimmers fundraising again this year for the Aveton Gifford Community Swimming Pool and Pre-school.

 

 

Bantham ‘Swoosh’ event in the estuary – take note, please, boat owners!

We wanted to once again notify you of the Swoosh swimming event which will be taking place on Saturday 6th July 2019 with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 9.20am and exiting at Bantham Beach by 12.05pm.
We are once again working very closely with Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the Bantham Estate on the event. We’ll be having another 6 swimmers fundraising again this year for the Aveton Gifford Community Swimming Pool.
If you’d like any further information about the event please let me know.
Many thanks
Abi

Abi Moores (née Edgar)
The Outdoor Swimming Society
Tel. 07859 970709