BEACON held a fantastic River Guardian workshop on 25th January at Marthall Hall. There were over 30 volunteers who attended the day-long workshop, which was a mixture of indoor desktop training, and then outdoor practical learning.
The aim of the workshop was to train volunteers, who have come from all backgrounds and levels of experience, to be able to safely take water samples from local watercourses, and test the samples there and then using simple test kits. These kits test phosphate and nitrate levels, pH and temperature of the water. Volunteers then record this information and send the results to BEACON where we can analyse this information and see where problem areas are.
The day was kicked off by Terry Dudley, of the Birkin Fly Fishers, who explained the work that has previously been done by the anglers, and also students from Manchester University who took and tested water samples from various points along Birkin and Mobberley Brooks. There is therefore already a good deal of baseline data for us to work with.
Caroline Riley, from Healthy Rivers Trust, then spoke to the group about the importance of water quality testing, what we use the information for and how to carry out the tests themselves. Caroline gave a practical demonstration of the equipment and test kits, and also answered questions. Anna Gilchrist of Manchester University was also on hand to answer any tricky questions the volunteers had!
After lunch the group walked from Marthall Hall to Pedley Brook where they were all able to practice carrying out the water tests and how to accurately record the information. A quick kick-sample was also carried out and a stickleback was found in the bottom of the brook! The tests carried out on the brook showed low levels of both phosphate and nitrate too.
On returning to the Hall volunteers were encouraged to ‘Adopt and Spot’, to take and test water samples from on a regular basis, and equipment and test kits were handed out.
The day was a huge success with positive feedback received from the attendees. People from over ten different partner organisations attending the training, as well as individual interested volunteers. The volunteers have now ‘adopted’ 25 spots along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks as well as along the Rivers Dean and Bollin.
If you would like to find out more about the River Guardian project, or become a River Guardian yourself please contact us here.