6. RiverLUTiON Volunteer River Monitors
Themes: Community engagement and participation; Improving water quality and water quantity
- Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
- Increase public access to and involvement in the river
- Promote the river as a community and educational resource
- Promote action to reduce households' water consumption and pollution
- Work together to investigate and implement solutions to manage and minimise sources of pollution
- Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements
Groundwork East launched the RiverLUTiON project in the summer of 2017. Since then Groundwork has set up a team of 'Volunteer River Wardens', who following training are independently monitoring the health of the river.
To date Groundwork has led six public river monitoring training sessions, with a total of 30 participants taking part. There are currently 10 volunteers who have gone on to become volunteer river wardens.
In addition to public events, Groundwork have also run a series of corporate teambuilding days focussing on river monitoring activities, as well as actively cleaning the river and its bank banks through litter pick activities. Groundwork have worked with a number of groups including Engie, Galliford Try, Tesco and Vauxhall.
Practical River monitoring is a hands-on, challenging and fascinating way of learning more about the condition of the habitat. It involves suiting up in waders and getting in the water to take measurements and samples. Three elements of surveying are used that help us build a snapshot of the health of the water way in question.
1. Physical Surveys – The morphology, or shape, of the river is recorded as well as the surrounding land use. Tests of depth, flow rate and substrate are carried out.
2. Chemical Measurements – We will test for specific pollutants such as Nitrate and Phosphate alongside measuring the amount of Oxygen available in the water for organisms to use.
3. Biological Survey – This test involves recording the invertebrates we are able to find in the river. These invertebrates act as a constant monitoring system for the thousands of pollutants we can't test for. The invertebrates we find will be assigned a score and using this we can calculate a grade for the health of the river. The vegetation around the banks will also be checked for non native invasive species.
Using the information we collect, the rivers health and causes of environmental degradation can begin to be diagnosed. This in turn will better inform management decisions aiding the conservation of wildlife and high quality habitats.
The project links with the work that the school and youth groups are undertaking on Junior River Wardens, but involves more complex monitoring tasks. To view the data collected through the both the RLTN and JRW scheme please see the map below. The Cartographer map collates and presents the data, to create a timeline of the health of the river and allow volunteers and general audience to see value of data being collected
The Cartographer map below collates and present the data, to create a timeline of the health of the river and allow volunteers and general audience to see value of data being collected.