Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is calling for more people to sign up as water guardians to help keep local watercourses healthy.
Wiltshire’s rivers are vital to the health of our ecosystems and our way of life; they fill our reservoirs to give us water for our homes, carry rainwater away from our towns so that we don’t often face floods, and provide water for our crops and livestock which helps to put food on our plates.
They also support the ecosystems we are a part of, feeding our seas to keep our precious water cycle flowing. Despite this we are not treating our rivers with the respect they deserve, considering how integral they are to supporting our lives.
There are three main river catchments across Wiltshire; the Hampshire Avon, Bristol Avon and Upper Thames. All are failing to meet good ecological status under the 2019 cycle of the Water Framework Directive, for reasons including diffuse and point source pollution, fish barriers and physical modification.
Much of the Hampshire Avon catchment is designated as a Special Site Scientific Interest (SSSI) / Special Area of Conservation (SAC) chalk stream, however, despite this development and agriculture are impacting the health of the river. Rivers are good indicators of the health of our environment, and right now they need serious attention, care and close monitoring. This is where Wessex Water Guardians Community Project can help. Our local rivers need us to monitor and care for them, and to and raise the alarm when they are in trouble.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Wessex Water have joined forces to work towards cleaner rivers and good quality habitats for wildlife. Funded by Wessex Water, the project aims to recruit and train local volunteers – the Water Guardians – to monitor watercourses, identify possible pollution incidents and report them to Wessex Water for further investigation.
Water Guardians will be the eyes and ears on the ground, playing an essential role in both the health of their local river and in their communities. As well as monitoring pollution to improve water quality, volunteers can also help by litter-picking, recording wildlife or organising local engagement events.
“Water Guardians is a flexible volunteering opportunity for people from all walks of life who want to volunteer and help their local river and ecosystems but have barriers that prevent them committing to regular volunteer activity. This is because Water Guardians walk their stretch of river on their own or with family or friends when it suits them”, Water Guardians project officer Oonagh French said.
Adding: “We are looking for people who can do this at least once a month and then report back to us. Every Water Guardian will receive training so they know what they are looking for. So if this sounds like the opportunity you are looking for to help protect your local river, please do get in touch.”
Find out more and register your interest at: www.wiltshirewildlife.org/water-guardians.