Background

The WAMM project (Wholescale Approach to Marine Management) is a new 16 month project funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and hosted by The Rivers Trust. The aim of the project is to support a collaborative approach to the management of estuarine and coastal waters in and around Morecambe Bay; chosen as the primary pilot location.
The three Catchment Based Approach Partnerships (CaBA); South Cumbria, Wyre and Lune Rivers Trusts and the Morecambe Bay Coastal Partnership are beginning a programme of work, which will focus on better understanding the impacts that different factors have on Morecambe Bay. One of the main themes is plastics, whcih is being covered by one of our partners but other partners have decided to focus on other factors. We hope the approach between Coastal and CaBA partnerships and will help build our knowledge and expertise across partners and problems that we are facing.
Here in South Cumbria with our local partners, we have chosen to focus on pollution and water quality.

SCRT project – Water quality monitoring-Leighton Beck

Leighton Beck is a relatively small catchment draining into Morecambe Bay which is recognised as being of international importance for conservation. The bay also supports shellfish beds and some designated bathing waters. The Bathing Water at Morecambe Bay North is classed as ‘good’ but is subject to short term pollution, ‘caused when heavy rainfall or high tides wash faecal material into the sea from livestock, sewage and urban drainage via rivers and streams’, with 15 warnings being issued during 2018 (Bathing Waters Website).

We will therefore be developing a baseline monitoring programme of at least monthly water samples, supported by a more reactive programme in relation to high rainfall events. A reactive monitoring programme in response to wet weather and other trigger events, will help to fill in gaps in the monitoring protocol to gain a more complete picture. Flow and water level monitoring will be undertaken alongside this to gather further information on nutrient loads being discharged into Morecambe Bay. This will be supported by visual surveys, including an assessment of litter, as well as general monitoring of river health such as training volunteers in using riverflies to assess water quality.Volunteers will be key in delivering this, particularly with reactive rainfall events. Water quality samples will be taken at 6-7 locations including the outfall to the bay. We will be analysing for both faecal coliforms and phosphate.
Our local partners are; Arnside and Silverdale AONB, United Utilities, Environement Agency and the Morecambe Bay Partnership.
We will also be working alongside Lune Rivers Trust and Lancaster Environment Centre to sample microplastics in the water column. Our programme will complement the one being undertaken by Lune Rivers Trust, with samples being taken at the same time as the water quality samples. This will support the work of Morecambe Bay Partnership and Wyre Rivers Trust who are looking at plastics in sediments and fish respectively.
If you are interested in volunteering for the project, please follow the link; https://scrt.co.uk/events/water-quality-monitoring/