River Health Project
Monitoring the health of the river through water quality and invertebrate monitoring
About the Project
In 2009 the Calder Rivers Trust introduced a water quality monitoring project on many of the rivers in the Calder, Colne, and Holme river catchment – and continues to train and support a network of citizen scientists across the catchment who monitor river health for wildlife and detecting and pinpointing pollution incidents.
A healthy water course is a busy environment
River birds such as dippers are hopping about on the rocks looking for food and fish are rising to the bugs emerging from the water – or falling back onto the water after mating. The bugs all start life in the gravel and on stones at the bottom of the water.
The purpose of this project is to measure the health of the river by recording the amount of invertebrates (river bugs) at sites (Monitoring Locations) across Calderdale, Kirklees, and Wakefield, and look for variations in results.
Invertebrates are the most useful available indicators of a healthy water environment, this because they are generally at the bottom end of the food chain, meaning that most fish, birds and mammals rely on a healthy population of invertebrates for their survival.
Many invertebrates are also particularly sensitive to pollution, and these are the ones that we research in our monitoring programme (the River Health Project) – their absence is an important indicator that something is wrong and action must be taken!
How it works
Our network of volunteer citizen scientists (River Health Project Monitors) make regular visits to monitoring locations to collect, identify and count river bugs to build up a data base which helps the Environment Agency set a ‘trigger level’. If the results from our monitoring fall below the trigger level action will need to be taken to improve matters, and in some cases further investigations can be carried out to identify the cause or culprits of pollution incidents.
Our River Health monitors are all volunteers from local communities and are trained to national standards in how to take the samples, identify and count eight key pollution sensitive species and record their findings on a central data base (www.riverfly.org).
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