Coniston and Crake Catchment Partnership
Given the treasured nature of the Lake District, you might hope and expect the water and its surrounding habitat to be of pristine quality. Unfortunately this is not the case. Our natural waters, including those running into Coniston Water and the River Crake, and their many indigenous species are threatened by environmental change and degradation. This is why the Coniston & Crake Partnership was formed.
The problems are very close to home. Numbers of salmon and sea-trout running the River Crake have dropped to such low levels in the last few years that the Environment Agency have put a complete ban on the taking of salmon in the river until such time as their spawning levels recover. Coniston Water contains a population of arctic char that has survived from the ice-age; unfortunately its numbers are in decline due to over-enrichment of the lake with phosphates, and other environmental impacts.
We work with the guidance of SCRT and its associates, including the Freshwater Biological Association and the Environment Agency, to play a local role in preserving our waters so that they can continue to support our irreplaceable native species e.g. otter, kingfisher, dipper, char, heron, sea-trout and brown trout, salmon, eels, lamprey, mayfly, and the aquatic invertebrates that underpin the food-chain. We initiated and run the HLF funded Conserving Coniston & Crake project which is operational until 2020, and will leave an ongoing legacy of freshwater conservation, community engagement and education within our catchment.
Among other activities, our community volunteers carry out biological sampling at 20 sites on the becks running into Coniston Water and the River Crake to help identify the health of the beck and its invertebrates, and with the help of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology we’re monitoring the levels of phosphates in the lake. Phosphates are the pollutants that contribute most to toxic algal blooms, and in our catchment, they come largely from sewage and detergents. Most washing-powders are phosphate-free these days, but what dishwasher tablets do you use? Many contain 30% phosphate, 8 grams in every tablet, although one major local supermarket’s Value range has no phosphates at all, and is the cheapest in the shop. You can help to keep our waters clear in all sorts of ways – and cutting out phosphate pollution is an important one.
If you would like to find out more, or even pull your wellies on and come and see what’s in your beck, contact the Coniston and Crake Partnership. Or if you’d like us to come and talk to your organisation, Parish Council, or W.I., we’d be happy to do that…. And we’ll let you know which supermarket has the cheap, phosphate-free dishwasher tablets!