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River Cale Health Survey Video UPDATED

Tuesday 2 April 2013, 16:24
By Dave Smith

00:28 - The weir
02:15 - River banks, debris and diversity
06:00 - Flow deflectors vs uniform channels
08:09 - Gravel sorting and fish eggs
13:39 - Wild Trout Trust, Mayfly in the Classroom
15:45 - Meandering, scouring, deposition vs weir
16:51 - Light and shade, tree surgery
19:14 - Footpath to follow the river?
20:21 - Japanese Knotweed
21:46 - River insects and water quality
23:25 - New Barns drainage (SuDS)
24:21 - Furniture at the recreation ground
25:07 - "Careful, it's Sharp"
26:34 - Sustainable willow bank fortification
27:30 - Just missed Matt's face-plant
29:52 - Car battery
29:57 - The End

On Saturday 9th February two local dads enacted the first steps of an ambitious plan to return the River Cale to its former glory, healing the damage done in recent years by industrial accidents and the like. The first, important step was to conduct a detailed survey of the river to ascertain its current state of health, and decide how best to go about improving it.

This article and video is rather long overdue, so apologies to Matt and Gary and everyone who's been waiting patiently for me to get it together.

The video is about 30 minutes long, so while we'd love for you all to watch the whole thing and learn all about what can be done to improve the river, feel free to use the timestamps to skip to the parts that interest you the most.

A see-saw from the recreation ground has somehow made its way into the river.

The video features two local dads, Matt Bishop and Gary Hunt, and Mike Blackmore, a relatively local member of the Wild Trout Trust who gave us his time to walk the Wincanton stretch of the river Cale, imparting his knowledge and wisdom along the way. Matt and Gary, an enthusiastic pair, describe in their previous article how they decided one night, while drinking beer in a garage, to embark on this ecological mission.

River scooters seem quite popular. I picked one up when I was a kid...

I followed these three on a walk of the river, with my camera to document the experience. Turning up at Morrisons in my usual attire it soon became clear just how serious Matt, Gary and Mike were as they changed into their full-length waders and waterproof coats. I borrowed some spare wellies and quickly set about failing to record the mission statement that isn't at the beginning of this video. Then we made for Hawker's Bridge to have a chat about the weir that's been in disuse for many years, but remains to cut the river ecosystem into distinct sections.

As we walked/waded the length of the river from the trading estate to Shatterwell Shoots Mike was able to point out a great many ways the health of the river habitat could be improved. Ideas ranging from the possible removal of the weir and construction of deflectors along the length of the river, to getting local schools involved by having the kids grow insect larvae to reintroduce to our river.

Behind Matt and Mike you can see the drop of the weir

Removing the weir will re-join our segment of the river with the next one further downstream, increasing the total size of our river ecosystem, while also increasing the flow rate of the portion of the river just before the weir. There are stagnant parts of the river before the weir which might become healthier if the water becomes more dynamic.

Deflectors positioned strategically along the length of the river will encourage the natural scouring of pools which add diversity to the riverbed - a great way to develop multiple habitats in more uniform areas that don't afford much biodiversity.

Insects can be found under rocks in healthier parts of the river.

Larger creatures living in or near the river are dependent on the insect population for food. Supplementing the river's natural stocks of these insects, which may have been damaged by pollution in recent years, may help to rebuild a self-sustaining food supply capable of supporting a larger and more varied population of fish and small mammals. Getting school kids involved in this process will also help to raise next generation's awareness of the river's health, and hopefully have a lasting positive effect.

A map of the river Cale running through Wincanton

Here's a map of the river meandering through Wincanton, marked with some of the more official landmark names. Remember to click it for a larger view. And the rest, as they say, is in the video. There's a full report of the survey on the way, so when that turns up we'll tack it on here for anyone who's interested in the details. [UPDATE:] The Wild Trout Trust have kindly provided their full report on the River Cale, produced as a direct result of this survey - here it is.

The next step of this river project was scheduled for the following day (Sunday February 10th); a little-pick of the river banks involving a brave rabble of volunteers. The article and video of that will follow very soon.

Gary and Matt have themselves a Facebook page. Pop over there and show your appreciation.


Posts: 1
Reply #1 on : Tue April 02, 2013, 19:25:05
Over the time that I have been reading & joining in with the 'Wincanton Window', this has to be one of the most interesting, educating, well constucted & engaging articles ever. If just one article had to represent what a community website & community spirit should be all about then, in my humble opion, you've just found it.

Well done Gary & Matt. I will do all I can to help. If there was ever a chance to join in on something worth while in your local community then readers of the Window, this could be it.
Matt Bishop
Posts: 1
New events coming soon
Reply #2 on : Wed April 10, 2013, 22:43:57
Keep a look out on here for information in relation to the river project progress....hope you enjoyed the film footage.

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