The ACA Forum

Conserving the Devonshire Avon from source to sea


In response to an Environment Agency EA) invitation in 2011 to help improve river water quality in order to meet EU Water Framework Directive objectives by 2015, the ACA convened a group of interested organisations to pool knowledge and resources – the Devon Avon Water Quality Group (DAG).    The somewhat dubious scientific foundation for the work was the EA’s Waterbody Information Pack for the Avon, published in 2011 – Avon WIP 10.01.11.  After several meetings, these organisations agreed Terms of Reference and a set of objectives based upon the Salmon Action Plan (Avon & Erme) which was drawn up by the EA in 2003 but never enacted – DAG Terms of Reference + objectives. The Minutes of the DAG meetings can be found on the adjoining sub- page of this website – DEVON AVON (WATER QUALITY) GROUP.

The South Hams Rivers Improvement Project (SHRImP) is a DEFRA-funded programme of work to improve the quality of the rivers Avon, Erme and Yealm, run by the Westcountry Rivers Trust in collaboration with other organisations.  SHRImP, worth almost £700,000, will conduct approximately £380,000 worth of improvements to the Avon, Erme and Yealm over a 3-year period, starting within the next few months.   Much of the work will be  addressing the DAG objectives over the next few years.  Progress will be reported via this section of the ‘ECOLOGY’ page on this website.

Any queries about  DAG or SHRImP can be sent to the ACA via the ‘CONTACT US’  section of the ‘ABOUT US’ page on this website.

UPDATE: July 2012 – The Westcountry Rivers Trust convened a meeting of the newly formed SHRImP (South Hams Rivers Improvement Project) Advisory Group on 27th July 2012 to introduce representatives and discuss the proposed work schedule to be supported by DEFRA’s Catchment Restoration Fund.

The project covers several South Hams rivers and it was agreed that the Devon Avon Group (DAG) should be integrated within the  overall project to provide specialist knowledge of the Avon.  The proposed SHRImP work programme  for the Avon will be subject to modification as the project develops.  One important  modification is the recent separation of the river by the EA into two waterbodies, the HMWB  (Highly Modified Water Body) upstream of Bala Brook or Waterbody GB108046004941 – including the Avon dam (now classified as of Good Ecological Potential), and the rest of the river downstream of Bala Brook or Waterbody GB108046004940 (now classified as of Good Ecological Status).  This new classification will acquire legal status in 2015.  However, the quality of the data on which these classifications depend needs improving, as recognised in the work programme:-


Several other action points were identified, as follows:-

  • Action WRT: consider studying downstream salmonid smolt migration in addition to upstream migration tagging study (smolt traps?)
  • Action WRT:  consider downstream migration of brown trout over the Avon Dam (smolt spillway?)
  • Action WRT: conduct broad consultation at catchment scale, particularly focusing on identifying areas where other organisations are carrying out land advice, and reduce ‘farmer bothering’.
  • Action WRT: map delivery area for farm advice and share with area partners
  • Action WRT: identify different sub-groups in project and timetable meetings of these sub-groups.

UPDATE: November 2014 – The WRT have produced this report of their work on the SHRImP initiative which will conclude at the end of March 2015 – SHRImP update nov 14