An Outfall Safari in the Woods
Our first Outfall Safari in Budshead Wood Local Nature Reserve has been a great success.
Eleven volunteers from the community joined us in December 2022 to visually assess and report on surface water outfalls within the Reserve.
The outfall safari method has been designed by the Zoological Society of London, the Environment Agency and other partners. It allows for locating, assessing the impact of, and reporting polluting surface water outfalls.
In addition to the outfall safari, the volunteers used kits from our Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations river monitoring scheme to test for phosphates, nitrates and ammonia. These can all indicate pollution linked to humans or farm animals, for example from cleaning chemicals and sewage.
This is important work in the PRK area and ties in with the project’s wider work understanding surface water drainage misconnections from households and the industrial estates (e.g., when dishwashers, washing machines are incorrectly plumbed into the surface water drainage system, which can lead to detergents and other household chemicals to flow directly into the streams). By finding these misconnections, the root cause can be addressed which will lead to fewer pollution incidents and higher overall water quality.
Project officer Jenny Wytcherley said: “The volunteers learnt about the surface water outfall system, different types and sources of pollutants and the negative effects they can have on wildlife and water quality.
“This led to some interesting and insightful conversations during the walk around Budshead Wood and we are looking forward to our next outfall safari which will take place very soon.”
To find out more about Outfall Safaris, head to: https://catchmentbasedapproach.org/learn/outfall-safari-guide/ and visit our events page for future Outfall Safari dates.
Our Fisheries Team will be starting electrofishing surveys in late summer 2021. Electrofishing surveys of nine sites throughout the catchment are proposed to take place in 2021 prior to fish barrier works and habitat works, and again in summer 2022 and 2023 after the works. This will allow us to assess the impact of barriers to fish passage on populations and to inform the effectiveness of the works undertaken. These surveys will be fully quantitative (FQ) and will allow an accurate count of the number of fish present, including species, size and age.
PRK, working closely with Plymouth City Council and the local community, have released weevils into Budshead pond to help fight the invasive Water Fern. Read the full story here: Non-native weevils help to clear Budshead pond of an invasive plant. | Westcountry Rivers Trust (wrt.org.uk)
Community events – PRK has teamed up with our colleagues on the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project and Westcountry CSI to run a number of community events throughout the PRK area. These include litter picks and pop-up events, giving local communities the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife that lives in the streams, watch Westcountry CSI demonstrations, take part in river themed crafts and enjoy River Stories from a Storyteller. Find a full list of the events here: Events | Westcountry Rivers Trust (wrt.org.uk)
Non-native Invasive Species (NNIS) Surveys – Our River Ops Team has started non-native invasive species (NNIS) surveys in the PRK area, and so far identified Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Laurel, Bamboo, Rhododendron and Water fern (Azolla filiculoides).
Over the course of the PRK project, we’ll be tackling the non-native invasive species to improve the habitats for our native wildlife.
We removed a large area of Himalayan Balsam from Whitleigh Wood (a Woodland Trust wood) at a Himalayan Balsam Bashing community event, and identified a further area of Balsam for a future event.
Lucie, a Plymouth University Student currently on placement with us, speaks about undertaking water quality monitoring within the PRK catchment. Read the full post here: Day in the life of a river scientist in Plymouth. | Westcountry Rivers Trust (wrt.org.uk)
Our Fisheries Team has completed the first phase of SNIFFER surveys at 15 fish migration barriers in low flows. The Team will be returning to the catchment in autumn/winter 2021/22 to undertake the second phase of high flow SNIFFERS. The results will help us to prioritise which barriers should be removed through PRK.
The SNIFFER protocol is a technique developed by the Scottish and Northern Irish Forum For Environmental Research (SNIFFER) and looks in-depth at barriers (such as weirs and culverts) to give expert judgement of its “pass-ability” in terms of different migratory fish species.
Our wildlife and resident/organisation surveys are now closed. We will be sharing findings from these in the coming weeks. More soon.
Connecting with place…
The initial focus for Plymouth River Keepers is the restoration and improvement of three specific streams, one of which
doesn’t seem to have a name – unless you can tell us? Or maybe we can work together to name it…
You can see some of the problems that need to be addressed in various locations in the photo gallery below.
River clean-ups and citizen science water monitoring are some of the ways Plymouth River Keepers could prevent pollution incidents and problems like these.
Throughout the project, we aim to implement positive habitat improvement works, such as removing non-native invasive plant species and removing barriers to fish passage.
As a Plymouth River Keeper, you will be making decisions to prioritise future actions such as these, and there may even be opportunities for you to get involved with some of the practical aspects.
You’ll be part of deciding what we can achieve, together.
Our map above shows you the areas where
Plymouth River Keepers will begin.
If you live here, it will be good to have you involved.
We’d love to see your pictures of places by water that are special to you to share in the gallery below, just email us a photograph at [email protected] to be included.