West Country Rivers League Table. How Does Your River Compare?

The overall score for the catchment is based on a year’s data, collected at all sites in the Sid waterbody. It is calculated from the observations and water quality results attained during a Westcountry Citizen Science Investigation (CSI) survey. A waterbody has to have at least 12 samples taken over the year for it to qualify for a scorecard.

The results in this scorecard refer to 2022 and have just been released.

Reflections on our score – what does it all mean? 

In 2021, the catchment scored B and for 2022 C+, not appreciably different in the grand scheme of things. 

ECOLOGY 

This score was disappointing, we have a wealth of wild life on and in the river including Daubentons bats feeding on the river’s surface at night which would never be recorded as our tests require light.  Water quality surveys may not pick up kingfishers or otters in the immediate vicinity, even though they are present elsewhere on that watercourse. The quality of the monitoring site could  also be influential e.g. we monitor the Roncombe at a road bridge where the river is publically accessible but  the river is culverted and wagtails or kingfishers are unlikely to be in evidence here but they are present a little way upstream on private land.  

POLLUTION 

This is based on visual sources. The score is good but there are some litter hotspots.  Many thanks to Sidmouth Plastic Warriors who have done several thorough litter picks on and in the Woolbrook in the Manstone area.  This is sadly an on going problem as are invasive species.  Thanks to the persistence  of Sidmouth Balsam Bashers, Himalayan Balsam is held in check.  Japanese knotweed is present in the valley although not recorded at  our monitoring sites.

TOTAL DISOLVED SOLDS [TDS]   Very high readings can indicate pollution especially when combined with high phosphate readings as is the case on some of our tributary streams. [See Phosphates below]

TURBIDITY  

The score reflects the heavy erosion of soil from the steep valley sides after rainfall. 

PHOSPHATES 

Phosphates are a form of pollution when in the wrong place, i.e. in the river.  The catchment score averages the data but in order to gain a better understanding it is necessary to consider results from each watercourse monitored.

We have very high readings [often above 300ppb] from the Woolbrook, Burscombe Brook, Snod Brook and Bickwell Brook. On the Woolbrook, which has the highest average scores, we attempt to distinguish rural from urban sources, by monitoring in two locations on the same day. This gives 2 adverse readings most months from one tributary stream giving a lower score.  The major Sid tributary, the Roncombe, and also the Lincombe usually have good readings as do all locations on the Sid. 

Interpreting the data isn’t easy or straight forward but combined with local  knowledge, and appraising  information from  individual streams,  problems can be better understood and we can work together as a valley community to make improvements. 

SVBG is a not for profit organisation dependant on volunteers, grants and donations.  Without funding we cannot operate and many of our biodiversity projects will cease.

Even the smallest donation can make a difference to wildlife such as the kingfisher on our logo.  

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One thought on “West Country Rivers League Table 2022.

  1. Paul Dodds says:

    An interesting read. Thank you for your efforts.

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