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WQMN - everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.

What is it? It is the Angling Trust's Water Quality Monitoring Network and the TAOA has joined it.

We are monitoring the Teise each month near the footbridge at Harpers, and the key results so far are as follows:

Date

Temp

Electrical Conductivity

Phosphate

Nitrate

1/08/22

21

307

0

2

5/09/22

19.7

68.2

2.5

2

7/10/22

14.4

290

0.32

2

12/11/22

12.4

282

0.07

0

I'm sure you all appreciate the significance of those readings :-) but if not, here are some explanations supplied by the WQMN coordinator:

Electrical Conductivity - Significantly elevated electrical conductivity can indicate that pollution has entered the river. A measure of electrical conductivity cannot tell you what the pollutant is, but it can help identify that there is a problem that may harm invertebrates and/or fish. Electrical conductivity may be high in a river without any visible effects on the clarity of the river water. Any human activity that adds inorganic, charged chemicals to a river will alter the electrical conductivity. For example, electrical conductivity may be higher in a river downstream of a sewage treatment works due to chemicals such as chloride and phosphate from household products. Winter road runoff, containing salt, can be very high in electrical conductivity. If this runoff reaches rivers then it may, depending on the quantity of water, temporarily elevate the electrical conductivity in the river.

Phosphate - Standards for Phosphorus in UK Rivers were introduced under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and associated Regs/Directions in 2009 and were updated in 2015. The standards are site-specific and depend upon the altitude and alkalinity of the site. The standards for good ecological status (close to natural) in Rivers are broadly in the range 0.077 – 0.306 ppm of Orthophosphate (PO43-), as annual means. This is as measured by a Hanna Colorimeter. A local EA Fisheries Team can advise on your local standards for Phosphate.

Note - The Phosphate Checker upper limit is 2.5 ppm, the lower test limit is 0.00 ppm with an accuracy of ± 0.04 ppm. So, a 0.00 ppm reading does not mean there is no phosphate present, it will be between 0.00 and 0.04 ppm. A 2.5 reading does not mean that is the total phosphate, it means that it is in excess of 2.5 ppm.

Nitrate - There are no ecological status standards for Nitrogen in Rivers. The Environment Agency’s approach is to focus on Phosphate as the main cause of river eutrophication and the nutrient they are most able to reduce to levels that will improve the ecology. There is a standard for Lakes and Reservoirs, which is 0.75 – 1.5 mg/l (ppm). Natural levels of Nitrate in freshwater are typically low, generally well below 5 ppm.


The monitoring probably won't produce any readings of great significance until the picture over a year or several years emerges, or unless there is a major incident. Nonetheless we will contiinue to monitor these indicators, and if nothing else, it will help build up a picture of our rivers across the country, when combined with the other 100+ sites taking part.

You can keep up to date on general progress the AT site, e.g. https://anglingtrust.net/2022/08/25/anglers-against-pollution-monitoring-campaign-growing-fast/ but you will hear plenty about the scheme in the angling press generally, and you can be proud that your club is playing its part.


Peter B



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