Jul 5, 2021 | Blog

BODY OF WATER

 

BODY OF WATER: Water Monitoring creative lab/workshop day on Monday 19 July

Are you interesting in or concerned about the water quality in the River Exe and on Exmouth Beach? Maybe you’re a swimmer, kite-surfer, dog walker or fisherman and have noticed the incidents of pollution becoming more frequent or just wonder how healthy our water is and the impacts of changing water quality on wildlife? If you are interested in being actively involved in protecting our sea and estuary then we would like to invite you to a water monitoring workshop on 19th July, 10 am – 3 pm at Exe Sailing Club. We’ll be working together to pull together a shared vision of how we can monitor our estuary and the way forward. It’ll be a full and exciting day with local residents of the Exe, representatives from South West Water, Exe estuary management partnership, University of Exeter, RSPB, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Marine Biological Association and audio/visual artist Kathy Hinde. Places are very limited, so please email info@tidelines.uk for more info and to reserve a space.

During the day we will pool different forms of knowledge, think about a shared vision for how we might want to work together to monitor water quality on our estuary, what our project might look like, our priorities and outcomes and ways forward.  We are keen to look at innovative and creative ways of recording and collecting data. The aim of the project is to involve people around the estuary in gathering rich data sets which could be easily accessed by local people, for example through an online data map that could be used to inform action in response to water quality violations, monitor estuary health and help us to clean up local waters.

Local residents of the Exe will be joined by representatives from South West Water, Exe estuary management partnership, University of Exeter, RSPB, Marine Biological Association, Westcountry Rivers Trust and audio/visual artist Kathy Hinde who will run an underwater listening session.  Artist Shelley Castle will record the day through drawing and illustration. The day will be facilitated by Ruth Ben-Tovim.  The event will be documented and shared on the website.

Below are a list of questions that have come to us about water quality from individuals around the estuary through the Tidelines website and the Exe Estuary Box. This has emerged as a key area of interest/concern in our communities:

Are the salmon coming back?

What would it cost to make the River clean enough to swim in?

How polluted is the water?

Is any raw sewage still allowed to be discharged into it?

How can we protect the living treasury of nature from the selfish greed & carelessness of people? – Is there hope?

How can we enhance its ability to support wildlife?

Is there anybody responsible for the water quality?

Can dogs get any diseases from the river?

How do we ensure water quality is protected?

Will increased residential building in the area increase river pollution?

The estuary was once a major source of free food for villagers (mussels, shellfish, salmon, etc,). Are stocks ever likely to recover?

How safe is it to swim in the estuary? Tidal? Health-wise?

How clean the water really is compared to how it has been & how it could be?

This day has been funded by Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter and Wild East Devon and is for a maximum of 20 people. If you are interested in coming along or being involved as the project develops please get in touch.

In preparing for this day I took a trip out around the estuary with researcher on underwater acoustics Sophie Nedelec and artist Kathy Hinde on a pilot voyage for Sophie’s new sonic kayak. The sonic kayak has been created through open source software created by the inspiring FOAM Kernow (Now called Then Try This)  The kayac monitors and sonifies (makes into sound) various forms of live data including water temperature, turbidity and air pollution levels and has a hydrophone  so you can hear underwater sound. We experimented with the kayak and also the onboard Garmin screen which indicated the depths of water and any shoals or objects in the water. We are also thinking about how swimmers and recreational users of the exe estuary and coast could be actively involved in monitoring and collecting data for example through designing portable monitoring kits for swimmer’s dry bags or for paddleboards.

 

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