Friends of the Lugg – Citizen Science Monitoring Project

Friends of the Lugg – Citizen Science Monitoring Project

Brecon and Radnor CPRW & Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

We have trained 40 Citizen Scientist volunteers to monitor water quality in the Welsh Lugg!

River Lugg by withy beds, Presteigne. Credit: Gareth Rees-Roberts

Our rivers are dying. The fate of our Welsh rivers has hit the headlines recently. Last Summer the Wye turned green with lethal algal blooms reaching further into the headwaters than ever before. In the winter, Natural Resources Wales announced their review of the most highly protected Welsh rivers: they found that over 60% of water bodies in our “Special Area of Conservation” rivers, including the Wye, are failing their phosphate standards. Then, this April, a Panorama program (12/4/21) explored unauthorised sewage discharges. Rephokus, a research group based at Lancaster University, has presented disturbing models highlighting the ever-increasing risks of river pollution from over-application of phosphate in manures from intensively reared livestock.

Last Autumn, Cardiff University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences set up a program to see what part Citizen Science can play in looking at river water quality. They are offering advice, training and support to initiatives throughout the Wye catchment in both England and Wales.

Brecon and Radnor CPRW has teamed up with Radnorshire Wildlife Trust to monitor the Lugg/Arrow catchment in Powys. Our branch has raised £5,000 pounds to buy equipment and RWT has adopted the project under their new Green Connections initiative. We are putting our own campaigning experience of local mapping and river pollution together with RWT professional skills in fresh-water ecology and running volunteer schemes in this exciting new project.

Wye tributary river bed apparently devoid of life Credit: Gareth Rees-Roberts

CPRW is providing interactive mapping of features related to water quality for the Wye catchment throughout Herefordshire and Powys. Our open-access mapping is share-funded with Herefordshire CPRE and will help all the Citizen Scientists think about what is happening to their local rivers and streams.

We are using protocols and monitoring equipment chosen in discussions with Cardiff scientists and working in close collaboration with Friends of the Upper Wye, (FOUW) an independent charity set up last year to monitor the Upper Wye catchment down to the confluence of the Lugg in Herefordshire. Volunteer monitoring of the English Lugg/Arrow catchment in Herefordshire will be coordinated by Herefordshire CPRE. The English Environment Agency is helping these two charities buy equipment but we are based entirely in Wales and Natural Resources Wales say they cannot offer us any help with the cost of equipment.

We are monitoring phosphates, nitrates, temperature, electrical conductivity and turbidity with photos at fixed points up to twice a week throughout the catchment and recording these on a common Epicollect5 data-base, together with the FOUW, CPRE, Wye and Usk Foundation, Wye Salmon association and others. We want to collect data for at least a year and use local people-power to provide an evidence base for turning around our failing rivers.

July 2021 – WALKING WITH THE WYE is a month-long pilgrimage along the River Wye from its source to where it ends at the Severn estuary, to celebrate this magnificent river and its vital tributaries, and to raise awareness of the environmental destruction it is facing. Between the 3rd July and 1st August walks and events are taking place along the Wye from the source at Pumlumon down to Chepstow. DOWNLOAD PDF FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN TAKE PART.