Posts Tagged ‘Tidal Road’

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.

Stolen Rib Boat – Tidal Road

Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information in connection with a report of theft of a boat from the area of Tidal Road, Aveton Giffon, Kingsbridge.

This took place sometime between Sunday 14 and Monday 15 June 2020.

A Honway T40 4 meter rib boat was stolen, along with a 30HP outboard engine, 2 x paddles and anchor.

If you have any information or have any CCTV in the area please phone 101 or email 101@dc.police.uk quoting crime CR/048151/20.

Thank you.

SPRING NOTES

SPRING NOTES – AUNE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION

Life in the Devon Avon continues much as normal although recreational activity in the estuary has been severely curtailed during ‘Lockdown’.   Unfortunately, our social gathering in the form of the Tidal Road clean-up planned for the end of April was another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic and advice on social distancing, etc.  Our Spring AGM will probably suffer the same fate.

 

As for normality, this is the time of year when as salmon begin to mature, they adapt for life in salt water in an intermediary stage known as smolts.  This process marks the beginning of their first migration from their home river to the ocean.   Anadromous fish, like salmon, that move from fresh to salt water and back again over the course of their lives, must be able to change their physiology – the way their bodies work.  In a process called smoltification, salmon adapt to the changes salt water causes to their bodies.  In fresh water, the salmon’s body is saltier than the water in which it swims. To work properly, the body needs salt so it tries to keep the salt in.  Some escapes, but the salmon gets enough from the food it eats to make up for the loss.  In the ocean, the water is saltier than the salmon’s body needs to be, so it must try to keep the salt out and the water in.  When salmon swim in the ocean, the salt water draws water out of the fish’s cells.  Salmon adapt by drinking seawater to replace the water their cells lose.  They excrete the excess salt through their gills and urine. As the smolts prepare for ocean life, their appearance also changes, from the dark colours of the fry to the silvery colour of adult salmon. This helps them hide in the light conditions of the surface waters of the open ocean, where there is no dark shade from overhanging trees.  While approximately 30 fry from a redd of 2000 to 2500 eggs grow into smolts, less than four survive to become adults.

 

We are now approximately midway through the smolt migration season, locally, but a big problem in the Devon Avon (Aune) is the potential shortage of water to enable these migrations to occur.  The Aune is a spate river meaning that it is rain-fed, short and fast flowing so the run-off time is quicker; water levels rise and fall relatively quickly, especially upstream.  The water level recorded at the gauging station near Didworthy usually ranges between 0-1.40m; early on 3rd May it was 0.37m.  In contrast, downstream at Loddiswell (usual range from 0.25m -1.80m); the level was 0.26m and falling.  The Avon dam exacerbates the problem of seasonal water shortages although, as part of the original agreement when the dam was built in the 1950s, an ecological ‘bank’ or ‘freshet’ of water should be released in times of drought.    Some years ago, we managed to negotiate with the Environment Agency (EA) and Southwest Water (SWW) to make sure these water releases actually happened – for the first time since the dam was built.   Unfortunately, owing to retirements and headcount reductions in both organisations, the agreement details seemed to become ‘forgotten’ despite my best attempts to familiarise replacement staff with the arrangements.  Happily, following yet more staff reassignments and the appointment of a new, better informed, EA fisheries officer to cover our region, I have just been notified that  because April was a very dry month – although it is raining as I write – the overspill from the dam has been very small of late.    Therefore, a ‘freshet’ of water will be arranged with SWW.  Hopefully, more smolts will make their way to the sea as a result and will eventually come back to our river as adult fish.

 

Stuart Watts – May 2020

Tidal Road clean-up, April 26th 2020 – POSTPONEMENT

Owing to the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Tidal Road clean-up on Sunday April 26th has been postponed until such time as we can all emerge from home without risk.

Meanwhile, STAY SAFE!

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’!