The East Looe, West Looe & Seaton Rivers in the S East & the Neet and Strat in the N East of Cornwall are target catchments for reducing diffuse river pollution. Monitoring river water quality is essential to reducing pollution, improving river water quality improving bathing water quality. Pollution incidents can occur in our watercourses, spelling disaster for river ecology. Regular monitoring is the best way of identifying such incidents early and enabling a rapid response.
Cornwall Wildlife Trust is a member of the Riverfly Partnership, a network of organisations working together to protect water quality by monitoring the presence of certain indicator insect species. We are looking to build a team of community volunteers who carry out monthly samples as part of this work in Cornwall and we are very keen to hear from new volunteers.
The Angler’s Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) was launched by the Riverfly Partnership in 2007 to enable anglers and other interested groups to actively monitor and protect their local rivers. It helps rivers to be monitored more widely and at greater frequency than is possible by the Environment Agency alone.
The ARMI monitoring technique involves pairs of volunteers taking 3-minute kick samples from the river bed each month, and recording the presence and abundance of eight pollution-sensitive invertebrate groups. The focus of the sampling is on ‘riverflies’ - mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies. The macroinvertebrates are very sensitive to pollution and are therefore good indicators of water quality; changes in species abundance may be the first sign of a pollution problem. If invertebrate numbers drop below expected levels the Environment Agency are informed and will take action to investigate the suspected pollution incident. The Riverfly data held by each river group will also allow for long-term changes to be identified, and the regular presence of volunteers on the river will discourage potential polluters.
If you can commit to taking a monthly sample (river levels permitting of course!) you will need to attend a Riverfly training day so that you can become a Riverfly Partnership volunteer. This is important because scientific rigour of results requires that all volunteers, where ever they are in the country, follow the same method of collection and recording. The method is simple to follow and the training will give you all the information you need in an informal and interactive way, including introducing you to the importance of river flies and guiding you on the identification of river fly species as well as providing a practical demonstration and lots of time for you to practice. At the end of the training day you will receive a free sampling kit, enabling you to get straight out on your own sampling site(s)
Equipment needed? Wellies, waders if you have them and lunch. No dirty footwear in the training room.