A quick up date of what I have been up to over the past few months as Catchment Partnership host for the Old Bedford including Middle Level :
Producing a Guide to achieving Good Ecological Potential: Good Ecological Potential (GEP) is a Water Framework term and refers to the best ecological condition an artificial (or heavily modified) water body can achieve without compromising the function of the water body. The Guide sets out to describe the concept of GEP, explain the terminology surrounding it and give examples of drain modifications which would lead to good GEP being achieved. A working party of EA and IDB members have been working on the Guide and recently I was asked to support its completion which I was keen to do as it will have real benefits for the management of our catchment water bodies. A consultant (Roger Mitchell) has been busy finalising the text and we have recently had a workshop to consult on the draft version. The guide will be published and available on the ADA website March this year and is funded by the EA.
Catchment Sensitive Farming events: I met with Andrew Downs; our Catchment Sensitive farming Advisor in December to learn more about agricultural diffuse pollution – in particular soil/fertiliser run off. As a result of this we are hosting an event for farmers on 8 March at Flegcroft Farm (near Whittlesey) with speakers on soil erosion, tyre pressures and worms(!), lunch and a farm walk to look at his no till seed drill which helps to reduce soil run off. The partnership is funding the lunch for this event and all Partners are welcome to attend. We are also working on a pond dipping event near Pidley for April. Will keep you updated.
Bury Brook walk over: Helen (our newly married catchment coordinator, now Mrs Chapman) , myself and an EA geomorphologist did a walk over of Bury Brook last October there is a blog post of this here. Helen will update us with the EA response to this walkover at our next meeting.
Water quality issues in the catchment: I met (with Helen) and the EA water quality planner at Brampton to look at how the Partnership could support the EA in making decisions about water quality issues. This was a very useful session and the offer of help/support is there if any partner wants to take up some sampling. I also attended a Fresh Water Habitats Trust workshop on volunteer water sampling where they had some simple but reliable testing kits for nitrogen and phosphate which I am considering getting hold of for all partners to try out if they want to. We could try a “snapshot” of the catchment in a particular month, just a thought.
The test kits are just little tubes which you mix the river water into. This photo shows phosphate levels with darker meaning higher levels.
The partnership has also given a phosphate reader to the Great Fen to assist in monitoring P levels at this important site.
Giving Nature an Edge: Is an HLF project bid Cambridgeshire ACRE is putting together to follow on from the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership. Its focus is on restoring and raising awareness of the natural heritage of the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens. It will enable communities to work with local organisations to strengthening ecological networks to help reverse the decline in wildlife and habitats. Many partners are already involved in the bids development. Let me know if you want any more information.
- We need a new Catchment Action Plan to identify our priority issues and then decide what we are going to do about them. I have started work on this and met with other catchment hosts plus the Rivers Trust recently for guidance. I will need some help for the partnership in developing something meaningful which we can deliver and will talk about this at the next meeting
- Other events I have attended: Sustainable Urban drainage workshop run by Anglian water, Fens for the Future conference on Natural Capital; Middle Level Biodiversity meeting.
I hope some of this has been of interest, Rachael.