Lucie, a Plymouth University Student currently on placement with us, speaks about undertaking water quality monitoring within the PRK catchment:

In April, on placement at Westcountry Rivers Trust, I was invited to join the monitoring team on an outing to the Tamerton Foliot catchment on the north-west outskirts of Plymouth. The aim of the day was to sample the water quality of the streams for Plymouth River Keepers, a project enabling people who live in the surrounding communities to take greater interest in their local waterways.

As part of my day shadowing the team I saw how general stream health was being monitored at eleven different locations across the river catchment. I learned how to use sampling equipment to measure phosphate, dissolved solids, turbidity and temperature, as well as how to read the setting so that the sample taken is most representative of each site. We talked about ways the monitoring data can be used to build a picture of what is going on in the river over time in order to target interventions and problem solve the most pressing issues. Which in this case may be litter, nutrient pollution and greywater misconnections.

The river is crucial to supporting the ecosystems that branch out across this area of the city, with local nature reserves and woods dispersed in valleys between the urban housing estates. By visiting, I experienced the tranquility that these green spaces provide first-hand and I could see the potential of each place to  provide valuable access to nature and offer a multitude of benefits to the people who live nearby.

It was great to be able to see the reality of the job of a river scientist, scrambling across riverbanks and orientating the river catchment. The team showed me how important it is to follow the science to inform evidence based decisions and I can now more fully appreciate how valuable it is for the river trusts to have eyes on the ground too. I’m excited to see what’s next for Plymouth River Keepers and thank you for having me along.