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Our river of life

5 Jul

Trout on the Cliff - Sherston. Pound coin for size

Trout on the Cliff – Sherston. Pound coin for size

We are so very fortunate in Sherston to have not just one but one and half rivers (if you count the two streams that have a confluence near Stretchline as half…) and they provide so many important elements to our local wildlife. Not only does the river have habitats for animals and plants that depend on water such as crayfish and willows and herons and kingfishers, but the fact that we have a water table which is just below the surface means we have verdant plant growth around us.

Like many ecosystems the river, with the right management, can recover from all kinds of problems such as the major pollution the Sherston Avon suffered from in 1998.

Rivers can be an enormous resource and it’s something we should really look after – while we may enjoy the benefit of a vibrant and healthy river system, the people downstream also appreciate it. Wouldn’t it be great if we had otters around the village!!

and to illustrate how wildlife can re-generate the picture shows a dead trout I found about 20 yards away from the river – and the round thing beneath the fish is a pound coin!! I suspect Heron had caught it and it was so big it couldn’t swallow it (I should have taken it home for tea!)

This year, so far, has been fantastic for nature. The warm late spring and summer has allowed birds to raise large broods and insects to breed at a fantastic rate. While we don’t always appreciate the insects, the birds do. If you happen to go down to Grove Wood you may see large mixed flock of Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Great Tits and even March Tits – what a fantastic sight.

Finally a date for the diary – WildSherston in 2015 will be on the 16th May. Village Hall booked – just a few logistics to sort out now! If you have any ideas or suggestions, or want to help please let me know.

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Drought update from Wessex Water

17 Apr

Following my post about the potential impact of the drought on the rivers in the area I emailed Wessex Water as follows:

“I am keen to understand any plans you may have to manage the impact of the drought on the Sherston branch of the Avon in Wiltshire.

Do you have plans to maintain the water levels through pumping etc? and have you carried out any impact assessment of the drought on the river flow?”

I received a prompt response as follows:

“Dear Mr Carss

The flow in the Sherston Avon at Fosseway is currently 260 litres per second, the stream support from the boreholes at Luckington and/or Stanbridge are triggered when the flow drops to 162 litres per second.  If the weather remains dry that we would expect this trigger to be reached towards the end of April or early May.  As flows further down the river continue to drop then the amount of stream support added will progressively increase.

Regards

Luke de Vial

Head of Water Resources”

From this response we should expect to see the pumps in Luckington and or Stanbridge starting to pump in the next few weeks to maintain water levels with the volume increasing over time. While this needs to be done there iis one question that comes to mind – What happens in say 4 months when the water table drops?. Is it a possibility that pumping will have to stop?

Drought hits Sherston – it’s official

16 Apr

Wessex Water (our local water provider/monopoly) has announced that Sherston, as well as a large part of central/western England, is now a drought area. They have advised:

“We are experiencing a period of abnormally low rainfall; in the last two winters we have received only 80% of average rainfall and in the last 12 months we’ve only received 76% of average

As a result of the recent rainfall patterns our region is in an “environmental drought” which occurs when low rainfall leads to lower than usual river flows and groundwater levels which can impact on wildlife and agriculture.

An environmental drought is different to a “water resource drought” which occurs when low rainfall leads to lower than usual reservoir and groundwater storage that can impact on the availability of water for public supplies.”

Clearly this is both a very serious issue and somewhat expected given that water restrictions have already been imposed in eastern England.

What is hard to understand is the impact the drought will have on the local wildlife – the Kingfishers, dragonflies, stickleback fish etc. Over the past few years the large pump at Stanbridge (on the Sopworth road from the village) has pumped very significant amounts of water from underground sources to keep the river flowing to some degree.

If the Sherston branch of the Avon was to be significantly reduced or even dry up it, the impact on our wildlife would be dramatic – let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Maybe I should ask Wessex Water what their plan is!