(Surveying the Waterway Environment for Pollution Threats)
Surveying the Waterway Environment for Pollution Threats was an award-winning project that helped to build up a detailed picture of the levels of nutrients in freshwater entering the Milford Haven waterway within the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC using citizen science.
It was a partnership project led by the SAC Officer and involved West Wales Rivers Trust, Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, the Darwin Centre, and Natural Resources Wales. It was funded through an NRW grant, West Wales Rivers Trust, the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC Relevant Authorities Group and in-kind participation.
The project ran from July 2018 to December 2019, using social media and local networks to recruit citizen science volunteers. Over 100 volunteers registered and were trained to collect environmental data on water quality within the Milford Haven Waterway through repeat surveys of stretches of the shore. Volunteers logged and photographed each freshwater input found draining into the main waterway along their assigned survey stretch. Volunteers sampled some of the water inputs to test for nitrates and phosphates. In total four surveys were carried out along each stretch between November 2018 and March 2019.
On completion of the four survey rounds, 881 water samples were tested for nitrate and phosphate, and 2105 records of freshwater inputs were documented. Works totalled 927 volunteer hours.
SWEPT found that the Kyoritsu PackTest kits used were a simple, rapid and cost-effective way for citizen scientists to quantify nutrient pollution across landscape-wide surveys. The instant results are an excellent aid to raising awareness of nutrient pollution.
In July 2019 SWEPT won the Park Protector Award from the Campaign for National Parks, raising awareness of the important connection between land activity and the state of coastal waters. The prize money from The Park Protector Award enabled further data analysis and the production of a comprehensive report to aid project replication elsewhere. Further funding from the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership enabled wider sharing through an on-line webinar.
Despite awareness within the catchment of the problem of nutrient pollution, the problem has yet to be resolved. Pollution incidents continue to be reported against the already high and widespread background level of nutrients in the area.
Outputs from this project included:
(Surveying the Welsh Environment for Pollution Threats)
The success of SWEPT led to other water quality projects. Funding from the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority enabled an open coast survey within the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC in October 2020. Surveys were conducted by Park Rangers, the SAC Officer and a small number of trained SWEPT volunteers. This raised awareness of the fact that nutrient pollution is also widespread along the open coast of Pembrokeshire as well as within the Milford Haven waterway catchment. Although not so much an issue for marine wildlife due to the fact that pollution is quickly washed offshore and diluted rather than contained within embayments and inlets, it is an issue that can impact bathing water quality and have serious consequences to human recreational users’ health especially outside of the summer months.
A brief report of the work has been produced.
[Another project just north of the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC utilising SWEPT methods was CLEAN ].