Being on sick leave and having someone drive me to the venue which is very local, gave me the opportunity to accept a very short notice invite to the second Little Ouse and Thet sub-catchment partnership meeting; which is an expansion of the main CamEO partnership. It was a wonderfully friendly, informative and beneficial meeting of many of the founding members of the partnership; including representatives of the Thetford Town Council, CamEO/Anglia Water, Norfolk Rivers Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, British Trust for Ornothology (BTO), Environment Agency (EA), Internal Drainage Board (IDB) for the area, Brecks fen Edge and Rivers Heritage Lottery Fund Bid and a representative of Euston Estates which is a major riparian owner and farming organisation in the area.
This very influential group are just setting out on the path to creating a catchment partnership and developing the links and objectives which they wish to set themselves, FreshWater Watch is accpeted as an important way to gain scientific knowledge of the rivers and tributories of the area, using citizen science engagement of the local people and so giving them a stake in the rivers and wetlands around them. It will hopefully help to indentify point souces of silt from soil erosion and polutants such as Nitrate and Phosphate which the kits can monitor.
It was particularly exciting for me as I'd not realised that where I live, actually just comes within the boundary of the catchment and so I may end up being a part of this really wonderful group. Already two of the Town Council have signed up to carry out sampling and they hope that their Rivers festival http://www.cameopartnership.org/events/thetford-river-festival/ in Thetford Town will encourage more volunteers to join and expand the monitoring through the sub catchment. The East Anglian Brecks have 28% of all UK rare species and with the area having the lowest rainfall in the UK water is at a premium. Abstraction is one of the big challenges facing us as it has 20% of the total Abstraction licenses in the UK and a whopping 30% of the irrigation licenses in the UK.
The Town Council hope to improve water qality, habitat and biodiversity whilst still providing a great space for people to visit and as part of that to re-engage with people using the river as a leisure activity such as fishing and boats.