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Supporting the first UK catchment-wide water quality monitoring from source to sea

The Angling Trust’s Water Quality Monitoring Network (WQMN) launched in 2022 as part of the Anglers Against Pollution campaign, and we are very proud to support it. Today, there are over 620 volunteers from 235 clubs testing water quality on 175 rivers across England and Wales.

This December, we are excited to see a further 45 volunteers from the Test & Itchen Association and the Watercress & Winterbournes Partnership joining the WQMN project. Using 34 monitoring kits, the volunteers have been trained by the Angling Trust and will record water quality on 12 rivers across the Test, Itchen and Meon catchments, testing for phosphate, nitrate, and ammonia levels in what will be the first catchment-wide monitoring from source to sea.

The River Test and River Itchen in Hampshire are close to our core. They are two of the most iconic chalk streams in the world, famed to be the home of modern fly fishing. Both rivers are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in parts, as two chalkstreams that host a globally rare ecosystem and are a hugely important part of our cultural and environmental heritage.

Unfortunately, these prized waters are constantly under threat from over-abstraction, sewage and agricultural pollution practices. Their naturally clear, pristine water needs to be protected to enable various species of fish, plants, and insects to flourish.

Aaron Rawling, Managing Director of Orvis UK said “We are proud to have committed to protecting these environments by supporting this catchment-wide monitoring of the Test and Itchen from source to sea. These rivers are very close to Orvis’ heart, and we are determined to help ascertain the reasons why and points at which they are suffering the most, so that we can all make a visibly positive change to their health and habitats.”

Kris Kent, Angling Trust Campaigns & Advocacy Manager who leads on the Water Quality Monitoring Network project, said: “I grew up in chalk stream country and the plight of our chalk streams has been deeply concerning for me. That these iconic rivers are over-abstracted and widely polluted is saddening. So it has been great to be able to work with the Test & Itchen Association and the Watercress & Winterbournes Partnership to extend the WQMN across the Test, Itchen and Meon in Hampshire.

“This is a major milestone for the Water Quality Monitoring Network as it is the first-time volunteers will be monitoring from source to sea across three catchments. In time, the data we gather will enable us to highlight the various pollution sources blighting the rivers and enable us to address them either through our campaigning work or through practical habitat improvements. It has been a pleasure working with the two organisations and such a large number of volunteers, who are so clearly passionate about their local rivers and so determined to see things improve.”

About the Water Quality Monitoring Network:

The Angling Trust is the National Governing Body for angling in England and the Water Quality Monitoring Network (WQMN) is a key part of the Angling Trust’s Anglers Against Pollution campaign which is supported by Orvis UK. Started in 2022 as a pilot on the Severn catchment, the project now involves over 620 volunteers from 235 clubs testing water quality on 175 rivers throughout England and Wales. The WQMN primarily records phosphate, nitrate and ammonia levels and aims to engage anglers and angling clubs in better understanding pollution issues on their waters. The data can then support the delivery of effective local solutions that restore rivers to a healthy state, and the findings will help the Angling Trust hold the government to account, ensuring it lives up to its rhetoric on improving our environment and meeting its own legal responsibilities. Find out more about the Angling Trust's Water Quality Monitoring Network.

About the Test & Itchen Association:

The Test & Itchen Association is a membership organisation dedicated to conserving and protecting Hampshire’s chalk streams. The 400-strong membership include river owners, river keepers and those who simply enjoy the world class fishing or the rivers’ unique environmental heritage. Formed in 1907, the Association works closely with a range of partners, both inside and outside government, who share conservation and fishery interests. Discover how you can become a member of the Test & Itchen Association.

About the Watercress & Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme:

Managed by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Watercress & Winterbournes is a Landscape Partnership Scheme which is protecting, enhancing, and celebrating seven headwater tributaries that feed the Test and Itchen.  With a five-year span and over 20 distinct projects, the scheme aims to secure the future of these precious places. The scheme unites 16 partners with local communities to improve habitats, protect vulnerable species, and address key pressures like pollution and flooding. The scheme will also showcase the inspirational nature of the chalk streams and raise awareness about the incredible wildlife that habit them. Find out how you can support Watercress & Winterbournes Landscape Partnership

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