Riverfly Monitoring

Citizen science volunteers needed!

Why? – Riverflies are an indicator species for water quality

Chalk streams are naturally extremely rich in biodiversity – it’s one of the reasons everyone gets so excited about them and why we should have amazing riverflies on the River Loddon. Riverflies are an indicator species for the overall health of a river and are often described as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for rivers.

We only have what the Environment Agency tell us is the state of our river from very specific water quality monitoring in two locations, just above and below the Sewage Treatment Works (STW). We need to know more so that we have real evidence to use as a lever for action to improve our river. Right now its a case of ‘No data, No problem’! Basingstoke has grown massively over the last few decades and is set to expand ever further, but the Loddon only rises in Basingstoke so it is a very small stream to take everything that is thrown at it.

Riverfly monitoringRiverflies are an important part of the aquatic food chain and their limited mobility, relatively long life cycle, sensitivity to environmental change and water quality make them very useful barometers for the state of the River Loddon. As our Parish covers the source of the river we can really see what is happening, from the point the water rises from the aquifer at Crabtree to downstream of the Sewage Treatment Works. This stretch is precisely where Basingstoke as a whole, including Basing, Lychpit and Chineham, is impacting water quality through combined sewers, road run-off, surface water run-off, pollution and environmental degradation all of which can damage the ecology of the river and its catchment.

What? – An hour of your time could profoundly help our river and its ecology

Riverfly Monitoring - chalk streamA team of volunteers – citizen scientists who would take a ‘kick sample’ once a month in the same location. A kick sample is where you kick the gravel in the river and scoop out the disturbed water which contains our riverflies. Pour the sample into a shallow dish then identify the 8 species we are looking for and count them. It should require no more than 1-2 hours commitment at most per month. Full training will be given, and now I’ve seen a presentation on the monitoring, even I think I can spot the difference (and I’m hopeless at biology), so every confidence we can train up anyone who is willing and interested to learn. Sites will be identified and you will be supported so that we can cover each other for holidays etc. It should be fun and you will be doing something that may profoundly help our river and its ecology.

When?

We will be training people in the Spring and working with the Loddon Catchment Partnership, hosted by South East Rivers Trust.

Next Steps – Go for it

Contact Kate Tuck at katetuck21@gmail.com with expressions of interest/like to know more. Please include name, address, phone and email. It would be really great to hear from you!

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