In 2009 the Trust introduced a water quality monitoring project on the the Calder and Colne rivers – and continues to train and support a network of citizen scientists across the catchment. Monitoring river health for wildlife and detecting and pinpointing pollution incidents.
A healthy water course is a busy environment. River birds such as dippers are hopping about on the rocks looking for food and fish are rising to the bugs emerging from the water – or falling back onto the water after mating. The bugs all start life in the gravel and on stones at the bottom of the water.
The purpose of this project is to measure the health of the river by taking regular samples of invertebrates (river bugs) at sites accross Calderdale, Kikrlees, and Wakefield, and look for variations in results. Invertebrates are the most useful available indicators of this becuase they are generally at the bottom end of the food chain, meaning that most fish, birds and mammals rely on a healthy population of invertebrates for their survival. Many invertebrates are also particularly sensitive to pollution, and these are the ones that we research in our monitoring programme – their absence is an important indicator that something is wrong and action must be taken!