Acidity test for the Fleet
STEPHEN NORRIS A project is under way to record water quality and acidity levels in the head waters of the River Fleet.
Galloway Fisheries Trust has begun collecting data from tributaries high in the river catchment.
Instruments called sondes are being placed in burns above and below inflows from forestry drains.
Measuremnents are taken to detect differences in Ph ( acidity) and particle levels.
GFT senior biologist Jamie Ribbens said the information would be crucial in helping identify problem areas.
“We are doing a number of surveys at specific locations,” he told the News.
“We want to try and tie down where our focus for action should be.
“Conifers can scavenge acidic pollution from the air – that’s why the upper Fleet is particularly vulnerable.”
Salmon and trout eggs and fry can be killed if water is acidic enough to dissolve toxic metals such as aluminium.
Degraded peatlands drained for forestry can also impact water quality when heavy rain releases dissolved organic carbon.
Mr Ribbens said: “It’s important to work out the correct source of any problems so they can be addressed.
“Options include peatland restoration, planting different types of conifers and changing the drainage.”
He added: “In parts of the Fleet we are getting a recovery, particularly of sea trout.
“But in other areas we are not where we should be and we want to know why.”
The trust’s biologist Victoria Semple has been carrying out the monitoring work.
Neil McKie of SNH has been assisting with the sondes.
They will stay in situ for three weeks before being moved to another restoration site.
Project backers include the GFT, SEPA, SNH, Fleet DSFB, land owners, Forest Enterprise and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.