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S&TC’s SmartRivers to Monitor Water Quality on River Alyn


In April, the Welsh Dee Trust and North Wales Wildlife Trust joined Salmon & Trout Conservation’s (S&TC) SmartRivers programme. A monitoring project, SmartRivers uses invertebrate samples to monitor water quality alongside the rivers capability to support healthy populations of wild fish.

Through the Woodlands for Water Project, North Wales Wildlife Trust and the Welsh Dee Trust are working with farmers to restore fragmented habitats, reduce rural diffuse pollution and improve freshwater biodiversity within the catchment of the River Alyn, a tributary of the River Dee in North East Wales. North Wales Wildlife Trust and the Welsh Dee Trust have joined SmartRivers as part of their landscape-scale conservation scheme which delivers targeted measures focussed on priority species and habitats.

River Alyn – copyright Sophia E Evans

Peter Powell, from Welsh Dee Trust, said:

“The River Alyn is subject to the impacts of pollution, particularly nutrient enrichment from agriculture and sewage. We also suspect the river to be suffering from a poor stream habitat and have noticed a lack of large woody debris as well as variable flow due to the area’s geomorphology.

“SmartRivers monitoring will help confirm sources of pollution on the River Alyn and provide evidence of the pressures that we hope to use in our conservation activities. Our Water Wise Farming programme is already established with farmers and landowners to eliminate sources of pollution and our Restoring River Habitat programme is planting tress, creating riparian buffers and increasing the amount of large woody debris in the river. The SmartRivers data will allow us to judge the effectiveness of our work and fine-tune projects to ensure they are achieving our goals”.

Lauren Mattingley, project manager for SmartRivers, said:

“SmartRivers monitoring has a wide range of applications. One of these is to see if remediation actions have actually led to river improvement from a biodiversity perspective. A huge variety of river improvement projects take place without high resolution before and after monitoring in place. SmartRivers fills this gap, providing long-term evidence of how work, such as that being undertaken by the Welsh Dee Trust and North Wales Wildlife Trust, has impacted water quality. We really look forward to seeing how the invertebrate communities respond to the efforts being made on the River Alyn”.