Riverfly report for 2022

The Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) is a citizen science project run by the RIiverfly Partnership, that enables trained volunteers, such as anglers and conservationists, to protect river water quality by monitoring eight pollution sensitive invertebrates and complement the work carried out by statutory agency staff across the UK. For more details see www.riverflies.org

Here is a report of progress made in 2022:

A spring recruitment drive resulted in twelve new volunteers attending an excellent training day in late June. This group comprised of three with angling connections, and nine who just wanted to be involved. Several of the latter are already part of a WRT water quality testing initiative. This is very good news for our Dart Riverflies ‘Team’ and means that we have been able to add another six monitoring sites to the existing six. New additions include East Dart, Walla Brook, Webburn, Spitchwick and Staverton. We are hoping to add Cherry Brook, West Webburn and Broadaford Brook in spring 2023.

The volunteers have split into six pairs and we are all very grateful to the DFA and DAA for agreeing to fund the relevant sets of ‘kit’ that has made their monitoring possible and has enabled them to practise and gain confidence. Identifying tiny invertebrates is not always straightforward.

In 2022 our Dart team of citizen scientists have carried out approximately twenty five monitoring sessions up and down the river. Blackabrook was our highest site, and Staverton the lowest. Had it not been for two months when work was suspended, this figure would have exceeded thirty but water temperatures in excess of 20 degrees resulted in unacceptable invertebrate mortality (transition from river to bucket to trays with minimal oxygen) and suspension of monitoring.

Results have – more or less – followed the trends of the last few years. Undramatic and mostly consistent. Happily, there were no ‘breaches’ to report to the EA this year. Boring perhaps but a fair indication that invertebrate life in the river is – by and large – reasonably healthy. Our sites have been chosen to cover a variety of river situations: some random, others above and below farms, tourist ‘hot spots’, and of course, sewage outlets. The warm weather and drought conditions undoubtedly put certain stretches of river under intense pressure especially during the two months when we suspended all monitoring.

2023 promises to be exciting. Most monitoring will take place between May and September with the occasional winter foray. Anybody interested in joining us should contact me at riverfly@dartaa.org.uk

Luke Chester-Master