Sampling the River Waveney catchment to identify pollution sources and levels
The Broadland Rivers Catchment feeds into the Broads, a network of more than 200 km of rivers and lakes in the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Broads area has a strong farming heritage, it supports internationally important wildlife, its rivers are stocked and offer angling enthusiasts stunning landscapes, and historic towns are thriving tourist destinations on endless coastlines stretching from Norwich to Suffolk. Although installing anti-flooding measures and resolving water quality and supply issues are vital, these tasks are difficult to remedy without affecting the thriving industries in the area.
The Waveney catchment in the Norfolk Broads is a designated Natura 2000 (N2k) catchment where diffuse water pollution is a significant contributor to the unfavourable condition of the Broads Special Area of Conservation. Natural England, which takes a catchment-based approach to reducing pollution, identified diffuse pollutant levels and contributing quality factors to establish conditions in the River Waveney N2k-designated site. However, it needed specialist help to gather data and ascertain the extent of damage, so it hired RSK company ADAS to undertake sampling in the Waveney catchment over the 2016–17 drainage season.
Our specialists took samples from 26 different points on designated ditches and upstream areas on Geldeston Meadows; Stanley and Alder carrs, Aldeby; Barnby Broads and Marshes; and Sprat’s Water and Marshes, Carlton Colville. We analysed the samples in our lab for total nitrogen, total phosphorus, nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, molybdate reactive phosphorus, total boron and dissolved oxygen. While collecting samples, we also recorded weather reports and visual observations on the condition of the water bodies.
Our sampling and analysis results assisted Natural England in determining where diffuse water pollution emanates from and establishing baseline pollution levels. The results also helped to identify sources for future action and remediation. Our data helped to update the River Waveney diffuse water pollution plan.