News Archive: January - March 2011

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  • MARCH 2011: DEFRA DTC PROGRAMME ACTIVITIES UPDATEThis update newsletter from DEFRA reports on progress with the research programme in all three catchments: "The DTC project has been picking up momentum over the past 6 months. Setting up 3 outdoor laboratories from scratch is neither easy nor quick; negotiations with the local farming and landowner communities, agreeing access, getting planning permission and negotiating research rights takes time. However, most monitoring kit is now in place, functioning well and baseline data is being collected. In the individual DTC Consortia work continues on three fronts: 1) monitoring and the continued characterisation of sub‐catchments; 2) detailed discussions with farmers about what measures are feasible/acceptable, and; 3) development of local communities of practice. At national level, three of the five components have been competitively tendered and let, and attention is now being paid to meld these cohesively together..." To download the full update [CLICK HERE].
  • 23 Mar 2011: The Water Pollution Solution!The Wensum Alliance is helping out with a playscheme in Norwich this Easter holiday. The theme is 'the water pollution solution'. A group of around 30 children will be thinking about water quality issues from the source of the river Wensum to the sea. The Wensum Alliance will be taking the children out to the Wensum to do some water quality testing with nitrate and pH test strips. At a previsit session today training was given to the volunteers running the project on water quality issues in the Wensum, which will help them design the activities for the children. We had fun using test strips to try and guess which water samples were from the river or the tap!
  • 18 Mar 2011: Chinese scientists visit the Wensum DTCVisitors from the Agro-Environmental Protection Institution, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing and other leading Chinese Universities took part in a stakeholder workshop at UEA in Norwich on 17-18 March as part of the scoping study ‘Mitigation of Non-Point Source Pollution in China’ funded by Defra’s International Sustainable Development Fund with co-funding from the Ministry of Agriculture in China. The workshop included a field visit to the Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment project to introduce the Chinese visitors to arable farming methods and also approaches to water quality monitoring using sensor web technology. The scoping study is a part of the China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAIN). SAIN was launched by the UK Secretary of State for the Environment and Chinese Minister of Agriculture in Beijing in 2008. SAIN is a key delivery vehicle for UK-China cooperation on agriculture, food security and environmental sustainability.
  • 11 Mar 2011: Data management workshop Representatives from all three DTCs attended a workshop in London to discuss data management with the Freshwater Biological Association, who will be managing the data archiving for the DTC project. Kevin Hiscock and Tobi Krueger represented the Wensum Alliance.
  • 02 Mar 2011: DTC Knowledge Exchange Project launched in SolihullMembers of the three DTC projects met at the Environment Agency offices in Solihull to discuss the research programme for a knowledge exchange (KE) ‘add-on’ project to the main DTC programme. The new project which runs over the next 24 months will help to facilitate knowledge exchange between the scientific and farming communities. One of the key activities under this project in the Wensum catchment will be to offer farmers and landowners the opportunity to learn more about water quality monitoring by taking measurements for themselves using state-of-the art monitoring equipment which will be loaned out for this purpose. Farmers and project scientists will also eventually have access to ‘real-time’ data on this website downloaded from other monitoring equipment stationed in the catchment that will help them to better understand what effect various natural and farming activities, e.g. heavy rainfall and fertiliser applications have on the measurements. It is hoped that the additional activities will help the project scientists to better understand farming practices and enable farmers to learn more about water quality monitoring and Water Framework Directive targets and for the experiences of both to contribute to the development of water resource protection policy. In addition the UEA Wensum Alliance team will be taking a display stand to various events around the catchment and county to discuss the work with the wider community.
  • 02 Mar 2011: High spec kiosks commissioned!! The two ‘high spec’ kiosks installed in the Blackwater tributary are now taking continuous measurements from their adjacent streams. These kiosks pump water into a flow cell from the stream every half hour. At present, measurements being made include dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, ammonium and temperature. Next week the kiosks will also be able to measure flow, nitrate, total phosphorus and reactive phosphorus.
  • Feb - Mar 2011: Monitoring equipment up and runningOver the past few weeks all the months of planning have started to come together and the project is really beginning to take shape on the ground. Boreholes have been drilled, monitoring and sampling equipment has been put in place and the first data is starting to come in. Laboratory staff at the UEA have been checking the first samples and setting up protocols and spreadsheets for analysing and recording the data. It's been quite an exciting time and a lot of hard work for all of those involved.
  • 25 Feb 2011: Installation of boreholes complete! Three shallow piezometers and a deep Chalk observation borehole have been installed at two locations in the Blackwater sub-catchment in order to improve understanding of the sub-surface geology in our conceptual model of how groundwater flows through the Wensum catchment, in particular relating to the heterogeneity of the superficial Quaternary deposits. These will allow groundwater levels to be closely monitored and the hydrographs produced will be interpreted together with soil moisture and stream flow data to give an integrated picture of hydrological processes. The measurement of porewater quality in the superficial deposits will test measures aimed at reducing leaching losses of nutrients below the soil zone, and will help Defra in the testing and development of best management practices in the implementation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones. A better understanding of the hydrogeology will also give insight into the timescales over which catchment water quality might respond to surface measures and help develop robust decision-support tools for the selection of on-farm mitigation measures in other catchments.
Notable events
monitoring station in action
Commissioned monitoring station at Salle
water intake
Water sampling intake point at Salle
visitors from China
Visitors from the China-UK Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAIN)