Posts Tagged ‘water quality’
This is notice of a formal request – in line with DEFRA policy and guidelines (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bathing-waters) – to designate the Devon Avon estuary (Avon GB 510804606000 -Transitional Water) as a site requiring microbiological testing during the period May to September under the Bathing Waters Directive.
The estuary is increasingly used for recreational purposes, including swimming and boating by enthusiasts, schools, tourists, etc., (see http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/events/?id=112 & http://www.singingpaddles.co.uk/Specialist%20Paddling%20Courses%20in%20South%20Devon.htm) yet is subject to 10 permitted sewage by-passes per year from the Aveton Gifford sewage works and is exposed to unmonitored effluent from many other sources - including sewerage system failures in the village of Aveton Gifford. Between Loddiswell and Bantham there are many known discharge points for domestic sewage systems into the River Avon, licensed but not routinely monitored by the Environment Agency (EA). Other systems are so ancient that they pre-date the need for a license and may not even feature in the EA records. Many of these private systems are subject to highly variable seasonal loading and consequent failure during the main (May-September) tourist season when the local population explodes in number. In addition, this popular, recreational water receives the agricultural run-off from many farms in the lower part of the Devon Avon catchment. The downstream oyster fishery, which is routinely monitored under the Shellfish Waters Directive, has recently been closed due to microbiological contamination.
The water in the upper Avon estuary, near the Timbers car park, is at particular risk of microbiological contamination but the nearest microbiological testing points for bathing waters are at Bantham and Bigbury, at the estuary mouth. No ‘Beach Live’ alerting system to warn the public of microbiological hazards is operational despite requests to South West Water to implement such a system, for example, by the use of local community websites. Furthermore, there is no easily accessible warning about the potential health risks arising from exposure to the river water in the area.
In mid-April, the first ever water release was made from the Avon Dam in the hope that the extra water would facilitate the natural movement of salmon smoult which takes place at this time of year. The release, the first in the 60-odd years since the dam was built, was made after a prolonged dry spell of weather when the river was at the lower end of its normal depth range. This trial release was made after prolonged negotiations between the Environment Agency, South West Water and the Avon Fishing Association, facilitated through meetings of the Devon Avon Group just as the South Hams Rivers Improvement Project comes to an end. However, it is hoped that the ‘trial’ will be the forerunner of further releases to be made for ecological purposes.
Details of the agreement are available here – http://auneconservation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fisheries-Bank_-Reservoir-water-release_2015.docx
This report by Scott West, the SHRImP project manager from The Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) describes a semi-quantitative fry index electrofishing survey throughout the Rivers Avon, Yealm & Erme in July and August 2014. This was the second year of fish monitoring of this type and goes someway to establishing a longer term data set for the South Hams Rivers.
The surveys were targeted to complement the Environment Agency (EA) electric fishing monitoring undertaken in 2014, although both data sets use different methodologies with the primary difference being the use of fully quantitative depletion methods used by the EA and a semi-quantitative fry index method used by WRT (to be detailed in Field sampling and data analysis methods section). A total of two sites on the Avon, two sites on the Erme and 16 sites on the Yealm were surveyed by the Environment Agency in the 2014 season (see appendix D).
The full text of the report may be found in the RESEARCH REPORTS section of the RESEARCH page.
ACA members, friends and a few local residents spent a rewarding and convivial hour cleaning up the rubbish along the Tidal Road on New Year’s Day. Although much of the ‘find’ consisted of the usual tide-carried rubbish of fish netting and assorted pieces of paper and plastic that are commonly found in our beach cleans, one is left wondering about the mentality of those who think they have a right to dump their unwanted Christmas decorations and car wheels (not just the tyres!) in this lovely part of the South Hams? Our thanks go to the SHDC refuse crews who will eventually dispose of what was collected.