Tag Archives: Environment Agency

Floating Pennywort on the Wandle

Alan Martin, our Invasive Non-Native Species Officer, has been very busy this last growing season. Working with our trained River Rangers to map all invasive plants on the Wandle, and with the newly trained Hit Squad to start controlling them, we are making great progress.

One species we’ve had some great success with is floating pennywort. This aquatic invasive plant can be found along the river from Carshalton to Wandworth. Alan has developed and implemented a combined manual and chemical approach to tackle this species from its source in Sutton, and work until it is out of the river in Wandsworth. While this is going swimmingly, he has also looked at two sites on the Wandle where pennywort has a stronghold: Watermeads and Ravensbury Park.

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At Watermeads, the floating pennywort had infested a large backwater, a potentially key habitat for river wildlife with added aesthetic, recreational and ecological benefits. Working with the National Trust, Alan set to develop a management regime for this habitat to maintain it as an open water and keep pennywort at bay.

So how did we do it?

Manual Removal

To reduce overall biomass, several hand pulling events were held with volunteers from the National Trust and Wandle Trust – you may recall the epic Battle of Watermeads? Rafts of pennywort were cut away and towed to the bank using long grapple lines. The pennywort was then wheelbarrowed to a site away from the river where it would be left undisturbed to rot away.

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Foliar spraying

After reducing the initial biomass, herbicide was then used on the regrowth. With Environment Agency permission, Alan and Richard (from the National Trust) applied the first spray of herbicide in February this year.

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With this combined approach, open water was achieved!

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Continued monitoring

The secret to this work is that the work actually never stops. As long as there is a source of pennyworth on the Wandle, there is a risk the backwater could become re-infested. The local angling club at Watermeads and the National Trust volunteers have taken ownership of this site and continue to check for signs of pennywort, pulling out new plants. By keeping on top of it this way, it should never reach the scale it was back in 2015.

So what’s next?

Working with Merton Council and the Friends of Ravensbury Park, we are starting a similar management plan on the lake in Ravensbury Park which has been full of pennywort for years. Watch this space!

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Help the Environment Agency with the midge issue

Midges are chironomids and spend the first part of their lives in the river itself. They then pupate and emerge as flying adults, surviving for only a few days to mate and lay eggs at the river’s surface. However, recently they have been emerging in huge numbers in Ravensbury Park and other sites along the Wandle, with some local residents unable to open their windows.

The Environment Agency are investigating the causes of these mass emergences and as part of this has commissioned a study to find out more about the type of midges causing the problem, and what can be done to alleviate it.

But they need your help…

The Environment Agency need you as their eyes on the river. If and when you experience a swarm of midges in your area, please call a report through to the EA hotline on 0800 80 70 60 as soon as possible, detailing the time of day and location of the swarm.

The Environment Agency will then be able to gain a better understanding of how widespread these occurrences are becoming and whether any specific locations are particularly badly affected. They’ll combine your reports with their own information to assist in establishing reasons for the high midge numbers and working towards appropriate recommendations to help alleviate the problem.

Award Winning Wandle Restoration

Our rehabilitation work on the Carshalton Arm of the River Wandle recently won the Urban Category of the 2016 UK River Prize – an incredible achievement for all of those involved.

To express our thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way over the last 10 years, we have created a short film. So make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy…

Fish Passage Restored!

Last year we were working on a fish passage project on the Wandle at Trewint Street, Earlsfield.

Although there are many weirs on the Wandle which impede the migration of fish Trewint Street is one of the largest, with two weirs either side of a large concrete channel. With funding from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF), we have restored passage for fish and eels, allowing movement to upstream habitats.

So how did we achieve this?

A bespoke fish pass was designed by Fishtek and installed on the weir by local contractors Amenity Water Management (AWM).

At the top of the right hand weir, a series of recycled plastic baffles were fixed onto the weir. These deepen and slow the flow of water and as you can see from the picture below, the baffles are arranged with a diagonal gap up to the top. This is the path the fish use to swim up the weir.

Baffles

The baffles had to be fixed to the weir in dry conditions, and so sandbags were used to divert the water down the left hand weir, leaving the right hand side high and dry while our contractors worked. Watch the timelapse footage of AWM installing the baffles.

 

The second part of the fish pass were three large wooden pre-barrages at the bottom end of the island which were designed to slow the water down and reduce the drop in water level between the channel and the baffles.

Barrages going in

Each barrage was notched to create a path for migrating fish.

To makes sure the pass works in low flows a huge piece of wood (7m long!) was placed at the top of the left hand weir to divert water at low flow down the right hand side and the fish pass.  This ensures the pass works over a large range of flows.

Deflector and Eel Bristles

Bristles were fixed to each of the barrages to allow eel passage. Eel tiles were then fixed alongside the baffles on the concrete wall making the weir passable to both fish and European Eels.

A big thanks to our contractors AWM, landowner Mr Lammas and Thames Water, Defra and the Environment Agency for their funding.

Contractors

Wandle cleanup: November 2015: Plough Lane

The one with a record amount of rubbish!

BasherAnother month, another Wandle Trust cleanup, and for November we returned to Plough Lane in Merton.

After holding a two minute silence for Remembrance Day, 40 eager volunteers descended on the river to hunt down rubbish and clean up the surrounding area; supervised by myself and Basher.

Our wading team, led by Derek, got straight in and starting finding trugs and trugs of rubbish – it really was rich pickings!

I was soon presented with the first of many gifts from the wading team – my very own bike.

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Another interesting find in the morning was a Boris Bike – the bike was still working and we used it for the rest of the day, travelling up and down the Wandle Trail with tools.

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After a busy morning, we all stopped for some much needed cheese scones and chocolate cake, kindly made for us Ann and Tesco’s.

The afternoon saw more and more rubbish – including another children’s bike:

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A TK Max trolley:

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And a mattress frame:

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Just when we were wrapping up for the day, a mystery item was found lurking in the depths of silt in the Wandle. Soon the entire wading team were called in as back up to find out what this item was, and everyone was pulling and heaving on the grappling hooks. What was it? Well it was a car frame we think…

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All in all, we pulled out an amazing amount of rubbish from the Wandle at Plough Lane – just check out the rubbish pile!

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So what did we find?  1 jumper, 1 pair of jogging bottoms, 1 safe, 1 toy guitar, 1 Boris bike, 1 TK Max trolley, 1 car seat, 1 set of false teeth, 1 hub cap, 1 Coolest Christmas Ever DVD, 1 tennis racquet, 1 stereo system, 1 coconut, 1 bike wheel, 1 Wix trolley, 1 floor lino, 2 hanging baskets, 2 traffic cones, 2 kids bikes, 4 car mats, 4 car carpets, 4 licence plates, rolls and rolls of carpet, and lots more bags of plastic, metal and other rubbish

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Ann for catering for our volunteers (cheese scones were delicious!), Louise for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise everyone on the day, and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Aimee, Alima, Andrea, Andy, Ann, Anna, Audrey, Bill, Brandi, Charles, Chris, Danielle, Dave, David H, David S, Debora, Derek, Ed, George, Guy, Hannah, Helen, Hugo, Jan , Jane, John N, John S, Karoline, Lorenzo, Louise, Lucinda, Max, McKay, Mike, Nick, Nusrut, Patrick, Paul, Penny, Phil, Richard, Rose, Scarlett, Stewart, Theo, Tony, Victor, Wally, Wayne and Yvana.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  Sometimes you get muddier packing the van than at the actual cleanup!

Dam, where’s all the water gone?

We’ve started work on the Trewint Street Fish Passage!

Fish passage on the River Wandle is impeded by over 30 in stream structures, the majority of which are weirs left from the milling era. These weirs and structures are a barrier to the movement of fish both up and downstream and also fragments and isolates habitats.

The Weir

Trewint Street is one of the significant barriers to fish passage, with two weirs either side of a large concrete island. With funding from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF), we have started our project to install baffles and a fish pass to the right hand side weir, allowing the movement of fish once more!

The pass will also benefit European Eel populations which have declined by over 98% in the last 15 years, with barriers to movement being a contributory factor.

So what are we doing?

Low cost bafflesOn the right side channel, a series of baffles will be installed to the upper section of the concrete weir. These baffles are made from recycled plastic and fixed to the weirs in rows.  They slow the flow down on the weir, deepening the water and allow fish to swim up the weir through notches cut into the baffles (Image, Fishtek).

Barrages

In the lower part of the right hand channel, three notched barrages will be created to reduce the drop in water level between the channel and baffles. This will allow fish to easily swim up through the notches and through the baffles to new habitats beyond (Image, EA).

What will you see?

You will see a lot of building work on site over the next month as our contractors (Amenity Water Management (AWM) get started. You’ll also notice that the right hand channel is a lot drier than normal…

Dam!

Amenity Water Management have created a sandbag dam to keep the channel dry allowing them to work on installing the structures. All will return to normal once work is complete.

We’ll keep you posted with updates as always, but for now Tim is just happy to have wet feet again!

Tim happy once more

Wandle Cleanup: July 2015: Sutton

RydonsThe one where a tea related disaster almost struck… 

This July we were in Hackbridge cleaning the Carshalton arm of the river. Our event was kindly supported by Rydons who are developing nearby properties – many thanks to them!

Having arrived an hour early and feeling pretty smug about my efficient morning collecting the van, I discovered I’d brought an empty gas canister with me – disaster! As I began to panic, some kind volunteers who lived nearby offered to boil the kettle – but numbers grew and grew…

Finally Wally saved the day, buying a new full canister! And with that, we started the event.

Wading Team

We divided into two wading teams taking a side of Culvers Island each with team leaders being myself and Chris.

Rubbish Pile Building

Skiing on the JobWhat shocked us all was the amount of rubbish we found! Trolleys, TVs, wooden shelves, patio doors. It was quite shocking. The rubbish pile grew and grew. A personal highlight for me – one ski.

While waders waded, a team of 3 went hunting down Himalayan Balsam. The Wandle Trust have been balsam bashing in this area of a number of years and now only a few plants remain. But it was crucial these didn’t seed. Luckily I had some real experts on the hunt.

Lunch break came and with the kind help of Jackie and Ann, we all had teas and cake. Even I baked this time…

In the afternoon, the waders hopped in at Hackbridge and continued up Restmor Way finding more and more rubbish.

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Eventually I called it a day and got everyone to hunt down tools and wheelbarrows which we had discarded on the way.

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So what did we find?  1 ski, 1 doll hand (very creepy), 1 patio door,  1 rake head, 1 saucepan, 1 drawer, 1 desk, 1 broom handle, 1 trainer, 1 cat statue (thank you Aaron for the kind gift), 1 washing line, 1 bicycle wheel, 1 laptop screen, 1 sandal, 1 umbrella, 1 net, 2 trolleys, 2 cones, 2 TVs, 6 small bottles of vodka (empty), lots of cables, 100s of glass bottles, bags and bags of other junk and let’s not forget – all the Himalayan balsam!

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Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Jackie and Ann for catering for our volunteers, Jackie for supervising the Event Tent, Chris for helping supervise everyone on the day, Wally for saving the day with the gas, and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abinas, Adam, Andrea, Ann, Anthony, Arangen, Barry, Bill, Chris, Dan, Daniel, Dave, David, Dennis, Derek, Devashanthan, Ed, Gary, Gemma, Geoff, Hanna, Jackie, Jan, Jay, Jez, Joe, John N, John S, Jon, Keith, Louise, Marion, Marta, Mike, Nick B, Nick H, Per, Phil, Rayhav, Rob, Rose, Saiprem, Sathyandran, Simon, Stewart, Sue, Vic and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Wally is my cleanup hero.

Misconnected Madness

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We’ve got some good news for the River Wandle!

At the start of our Pollution Monitoring scheme with the Environment Agency an outfall in Morden Hall Park was identified to be a chronic source of pollution – a likely misconnection problem.

Working closely with our local Environment Agency team, our volunteers helped to monitor this outfall gathering evidence of when pollution was spotted with photographic evidence. This extra information enabled the Environment Agency and Thames Water to investigate 412 homes in the area and discover 17 misconnected properties with 40 appliances discharging directly into the River Wandle.

This is a huge success for our Pollution Patrol project so thank you to our dedicated volunteers. We hope to have many more similar success stories in the future!

Read the full press article here

Our Pollution Patrol is still running today with 50 volunteers trained on our three rivers – Wandle, Hogsmill and Beverley Brook. Our local Wandle Environment Agency Officer Kate for the Wandle has kindly put together an update on pollution in the last few months and what we need to start focusing on now!

Wandle Pollution Update

Why not join us?

We are always keen to have more volunteers join our scheme. If you think you might be interested in joining the Wandle team (or Hogsmill or Beverley Brook team), please get in touch with us at pollution@wandletrust.org

Check your house: Make sure your house is connected correctly with the Connect Right website.

Monitoring Madness

Olly and I have taken a successful sample set from one of our Downstream Defender silt traps in Carshalton and the results look promising…

In 2013 we installed a suite of 3 Downstream Defenders as a pollution prevention method, cleaning surface water before it enters the river. This week has seen a few periods of extreme rain downfall and Olly braved the weather to look at the effect on the river.

As we know, rainwater is collected off our roads and channeled into the river by our surface water drains. Unfortunately with the rainwater goes all the other contaminants from the roads. This causes a first flush of pollution down the Wandle.

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Our Downstream Defenders are designed to reduce the severity of this first flush by removing some of the worst of the pollutants before they enter the Wandle.

Today we took samples of the water upstream of one of our Defenders (before) and downstream (after) to see what difference it is making to the water quality. The samples have been sent off to the lab and will not be back for a couple of months, but for now look at the difference in colour alone!

DOWNSTREAM DEFENDER

 

Rivers & Wetlands Community Day: Friday 27 March

I have had a very exciting last two weeks at the Wandle Trust having spent more time outside in the river than in the office – lucky me!

On Friday we had our second Rivers & Wetlands Community Day with 15 volunteers joining us out in the sunshine. Tim had stored up a very long to do list since our previous Rivers & Wetlands Community Day in October last year where we added 2000 plants to the restored section of the Wandle at Butter Hill in Carshalton.

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Firstly we had to add 500 native marginal plants to the newly restored section on Mill Lane. As always, we ordered a variety of different species so we could create a natural marginal community on the banks of the Wandle. Species included ragged robin, water mint, sedges and purple loosestrife.

Planting

Meanwhile, some of our volunteers tackled the invasive non-native Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)which had established on the banks of the Wandle. Canadian goldenrod produces dense stands which out-compete native species, reducing habitat diversity. We caught it early in the season when it was just coming through as small purple tinted shrubs. You can see how dense the root system is in the image below.

Canadian goldenrod

There had been a fair bit of fly-tipping since October that we were keen to tackle, so a team of us ran a mini cleanup while the planting was going on. Some highlights included a bed frame, a motorbike at Hackbridge and a car seat. In total, 40 bags were collected which is almost the number we get on a regular cleanup!

Litter picking dream team

Next on the agenda was raking and seed sowing; coppicing and pinning in some Large Woody Material which had fallen into the river.

Woody Debris

Altogether it was a busy day and we couldn’t have got it all done without our volunteers.

So thank you all for coming: Aaron, Andy, Charles, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Geoff, James, John, Lorna, Mike, Steve, Sue and Wally.

Rivers & Wetlands Community Days