Acid­ity test for the Fleet

The Galloway News - - NEWS -

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.

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