Could you be our eyes and ears along the river? This year we’re launching River Watch, a new scheme to help track, and improve, the health of the river Frome.
We hope to organise a group of volunteer River Watchers who can help us continuously monitor the condition of the river Frome and the environment around it – so we can tackle issues as they come up and know where to focus improvement work.
The scheme is supported by and works closely with Frome Town Council, The Environment Agency, Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust, and TWIST (Transforming Waterways In Somerset Towns).
How does River Watch work?
The river between Spring Gardens and Blatchbridge is divided into six zones with two volunteer River Watchers assigned to each zone. River Watchers will walk through their zone at least once a month and report on the condition of the river and any problems or opportunities they see.
What do I need to do as a River Watcher?
1. Walk your zone regularly (at least monthly) and note any significant changes to the river and the surrounding environment including:
- General observations e.g. wildlife (including traces of invasive species), flooding, anything unusual
- Problems including
- Damage to habitat or infrastructure
- Dumping and litter
- Signs of eutrophication i.e. excessive algal growth/blooms
- Blockages which could have the potential to cause flooding or damage to infrastructure i.e. bridges/culverts blocked with debris, erosion of banks putting footpaths at risk of collapsing, etc.
- Pollution/water quality indicators such as dead fish/invertebrates or signs of fish in distress (gasping at the surface)
- Development affecting the river, including noting planning application notices
- Possible actions which could be taken by FoRF volunteers
2. Ensure any problems are reported promptly to the Environment Agency and Wessex Water using agreed procedures.
3. Carry out a monthly water quality test (using a calcium saturation index (CSI) kit) and submit data online (training provided)
4. Keep a simple journal of observations, plus any pictures or videos, for Friends of the River Frome and alert the FoRF Volunteer Co-ordinator to anything requiring action
5. Help with co-ordinating FoRF action projects (e.g. footpath clearing, river fly monitoring) in your zone
6. Develop constructive relationships with landowners.
Will I get training to become a River Watcher?
Yes! All River Watchers will get a resource pack detailing processes for reporting incidents and passing information back to Friends of River Frome. Online training will be provided by Somerset Wildlife Trust and Friends of the River Frome. CSI and other equipment will be provided.
If I become a River Watcher, how long do I need to stay one?
As long as you can! We ask that River Watchers commit to at least a year of watching and that they work closely with the other watcher in their zone.
Will I get paid as a River Watcher?
This is a voluntary role (we’re all volunteers at Friends of the River Frome, our profits go to river projects) but reasonable out-of pocket expenses may be reimbursed with the agreement of the FoRF Treasurer. River Watch volunteers are also covered by Friends of River Frome personal and public liability insurance.