Community Partnership Project Aims to Improve Water Environment

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Students from Chantry High School have been working with local experts, including the University of Worcester in a real life community project to explore the issues around water quality in the Shrawley Brook.

The new scheme, led by Worcestershire County Council and the Environment Agency, breaks new ground in linking scientific fieldwork with schools from the county. The research is part of a wider project to explore solutions to the challenges created by the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) for improving water quality in brooks, rivers and lakes.

Physical Geography lecturers, Dr Ian Maddock and Dr Tory Milner from the University of Worcester, provided their expertise and equipment to help pupils at Chantry High School take measurements of water chemicals, flow rates and collect macroinvertebrate samples.

Dr Ian Maddock said of the findings: “Shrawley Brook is failing to meet WFD targets on it’s number of macroinvertebrates, which are a key indication of good water quality. Erosion in some fields alongside the brook can cause soil from farmlands to run off into the water at times of heavy rain. This soil may contain fertiliser and pesticides that can pollute the silt settling out on the river bed and impact on macroinvertebrate habitat and fish spawning success. But practising alternative farming techniques and land management, called ‘water friendly farming’ or ‘catchment sensitive farming’, can reduce these impacts and improve the river environment.”

Rupert Brakspear, Learning and Sustainability Officer, at Worcestershire County Council, said: “Through this project the pupils are not only learning about fieldwork processes that help assess the quality of the local environment, they are also learning how to engage with key stakeholders who can make a difference in their local community.”

The pupils will be meeting with the local farmers as well as other local organisations who have already been taking a lead in linking the improvement of wildlife habitat and water quality at a future community event.

Mr Brakspear added: “The aim of the project is to encourage greater local participation and achieve greater awareness and understanding about the EU Water Framework Directive, particularly around the opportunities it gives us to improve water quality, habitat for wildlife and quality of life for the community.”

A community event will take place in the near future. Residents within the area will be invited to come along to support the event.

The University is available to offer assistance to schools teaching Geography. If anyone is interested in doing so, contact Dr Alan Dixon on 01905 542175 for more information on the Institute’s schools outreach activities.