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Your River Cale Needs You! POSTPONED

Wednesday 19 December 2012, 20:09
By Gary Hunt

Whilst drinking beer in my mate Matt's garage, we got talking about the local river and what a sorry state it is currently in. As you may be aware The Cale has suffered from several different pollution incidents, including quite a lot of rubbish being thrown or blown into it.

Rubbish and sludge in the River Cale

It got us thinking that we could do something to turn this cycle around into a positive outcome involving the good people of Wincanton (it can't be just us who give a damn about it, can it?).

After we had paid several visits to the Nog Inn to discuss ways forward (some visits more productive than others) we decided to see what support we could muster.

Well, it's been pleasantly surprising. Jim Allan of the Environment Agency was our first contact. Jim is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic; he is giving us guidance on wildlife habitat creation and ways of making the Cale really great again.

Matt, Jim, and myself had a good afternoon walking the river from Shatterwell to Hawkers Bridge, making notes of tasks to be completed. The Town Council is on board with its help and assistance with bags and equipment etc. The local businesses in the town have also been very supportive in various offerings of help.

Jim Allen of the Environment Agency, with Matt and Gary

The project will be done in several stages with the final one being the possible release of native species of fish to re-stock the river. First things first though: stage one is to arrange a litter and river clean up involving the rubbish on the banks and getting our feet wet dealing with objects in the river (anyone brave enough to enter Dead Man's Pool?). Here's an overview of the current plan as we envision it today:

  1. Litter pick along the edges of the  river including items in the River.
  2. Create better managed tree cover with some minor tree surgery - in conjunction with the EA and SSDC. This will allow light to the banks using the 40/60% shade ratio allowing vegetation to flourish.
  3. Use tree branches (from the surgery) to create mini weirs where fish food will live and grow also to encourage fish to live in this part of the river. This will allow spawning areas for native species.
  4. Organise a nymph hatching project in place at both Wincanton’s primary schools - in conjunction with the Wild Trout Trust.
  5. Jim Allen of the EA to electro-fish stretches of the Cale to ascertain fish stock levels. If required a release of new stocks of native fish into the river.
  6. Police the river with regular clean-ups.

A supermarket shopping bag stuck in a river-side bushSo what do we need from you? Well not money, you'll be pleased to hear, just some time; whatever you can spare to come and help us tidy up a small piece of our town and really do something good for the wildlife that is just hanging on in our river.

We have set the date of Sunday 13th January 2013  for stage one of the River Cale clean up, meeting at 9.30am in the Gillams Car Spares car park on Bennetts Field Industrial Estate. This will be subject to rainfall in the days leading up to the 13th, which will affect the river level. (It is, of course, a good opportunity to work off a few of those Christmas calories as well).

The morning's work finishes off with a meet-up and warm-up at the Nog Inn, Wincanton, for those who want to join us afterwards. We also have some fun prizes to give away for a range of clearance feats, i.e. most unusual object found in the river, wettest feet and most bin bags filled.

We can be contacted on for more details and to offer your help. Having your email address also means we can contact you if times or days change due to adverse weather.

No matter how much or little we manage to achieve, it will be of great benefit to our River.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

12/01/13 Update: Owing to the weather and the River Cale running dangerously high and fast, tomorrow's river clean-up has been postponed until a later date. We'll keep you posted when it's reorganised.


Victor Meldrew
Posts: 1
Re: Your River Cale Needs You!
Reply #1 on : Thu December 20, 2012, 18:51:28
Brilliant, someone with gumption. Problem is the river really is the responsibilkity of the Enviroment Agency, but they do NOT wish to either listen to concerns, or do anything to act on said concerns. For years an item of play equipment has been in the river, but nothing has been done. I hope that Matt and Gary get a response and manage to do something. Once the Scouts did things like this, but..............................
Posts: 1
EA responsibilty
Reply #2 on : Thu December 20, 2012, 19:14:36
In fairness to the EA, I think this article makes it reasonably clear that while they might not willingly get out of bed for anything less than a catastrophy, if a member of the public steps up and takes action they'll be more than happy to support.

The actions of Jim Allen speak at least one volume, do they not?
Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 18:14:05 by davidsmith  
Posts: 1
Help on the river
Reply #3 on : Thu January 03, 2013, 18:09:55
Sounds like a fantastic idea! See you down there on the day then Mr Meldrew ;-)
Matt Bishop
Posts: 1
River Cale cleanup
Reply #4 on : Mon February 11, 2013, 20:50:44
After such a successful few weeks of action, let the cynics be silenced. Victor, whoever you are please put your money where your mouth is and join us.

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