Water for growth: one year in!
Water For Growth (W4G) was designed to sure up and increase migratory fish on the rivers Camel and Fowey, this data, arriving just nine months in, has reinforced the need for this project.
Work officially began on the first of February 2017. Barriers and neglected habitat were identified with pre-existing walkover surveys and information provided by our partners and local angling associations. The project scope required the hiring of key staff, creating a new team within WRT. This
Attention is a deliberately vague term. Alteration or removal of a weir is a phenomenally complex challenge. To start, there’s the matter of ownership. Some are owned entirely, where as others are shared equally by each opposing riparian owner. Other stakeholders inevitably come out of the wood work as planning progresses. Perhaps a leat feeds a lake or pond, a hydroelectric plant… Often the impounded water above the weir forms a favourite pool for anglers.
These conversations and permissions are essential simply to assess the structure, continuing these relationships throughout as the project progresses into design, planning and environmental consents, any and all permits necessary to complete the works.
Soon enough summer had come and the juvenile survey season was upon us. 40 sites on the Fowey and thanks to the Environment Agency’s six year cycle on the Camel, we supplemented their survey with 15 more. It was only a few weeks into this programme that rumours and whispers of worryingly poor results on the Camel started to appear. By early October it was fairly clear that the numbers would probably require immediate action. Later that month and an emergency byelaw was imposed.
This realisation of the possible state of migratory salmonid population in the Camel took us by surprise but only strengthened the importance of W4G. The separate approaches of barriers and habitat are essential to the survival of existing juvenile populations and increase the amount of adults returning in seasons to come.
All considered, the purpose of the mobile app might not immediately seem congruent with the core river works. Why work to protect salmon or seatrout only to promote the targeting of them by anglers?
This installation improves the upstream passability of the weir by creating an angled path across the face with slower flows.
With a fair wind, all the planning, consent applications, design and procurement of 2017 will allow us to tackle and complete nine structures on the Camel and Fowey.
Our partner the Environment Agency are well on course to undertake works on three of those weirs with the remaining six core sites equally well developed. On top of this, the planning and stakeholder work has begun on a series of smaller and bigger barriers that we are looking to complete in year three.
Trees have been marked up across the county to increase that essential habitat and we will be combining drone surveys to monitor and assess this work from the air giving us the best visual of how the river and surrounding trees have responded.
The app will be going live for the forthcoming season with the introduction of a few new beats that will be “app only”
Three years felt like a long time at the start and almost seemed to get longer through that essential planning period, but all our efforts have built quite the head of steam and I’m sure 2019 will be on us in an instant.
I doubt any of us realised quite how important this project would become in those early days. W4G would never have been conceived if there were no problems to overcome, but the full extent of the problem, on the Camel at least, took us all by surprise.
Thank you to all the partners, the fisheries associations, the land owners, local historians, archaeologists, councillors and clerks… We have had enormous support and genuinely couldn’t have got to where we are without their invaluable time and experience.