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FLOW: Monitoring the river continues

What do the samples show?

FLOW:  Monitoring the river continues

Last year, Community Interest Company FLOW (For the Love of Water) took samples from the River Avon at Fordingbridge, Downton and Salisbury, looking for faecal indicator organisms (e.coli etc). Although levels of harmful bacteria were generally low during dry summer conditions, they were high after rainfall and during the winter when groundwater infiltrates failing pipework causing sewage works to be overwhelmed. The risk of becoming ill after exposure to the river is significantly higher after rainfall. They found that all sites would be rated as poor using the DEFRA bathing water classification, as would the river downstream of Ringwood (based on requested water company data).

There has been a successful application to DEFRA for the Avon at Fordingbridge to become a designated bathing water site - which means it will now be monitored and sources of pollution investigated, giving water users the information to make informed choices.  Bathing water status doesn’t necessarily mean a watercourse is safe to swim in - indeed, the Environment Agency took their first water sample on the 2 May, showing that e.coli levels were three times higher than the threshold for ‘Sufficient’ bathing water status. Check for the latest information. In addition, the river has strong currents, deep holes, and lots of weed in the summer. The site is not supervised so those planning to swim there should be aware of these risks, and make children aware. If you know of another spot on the Avon that is regularly used by members of the public, and access is endorsed by the landowner then FLOW recommends that you go through the process to try and get that site designated too.

Adam Ellis from FLOW puts out this plea: “Save water. Please treat water like the precious resource it is. All your tap water either comes from the river or the aquifer that feeds the river. There are lots of water-saving tips on

Make space for water. Rivers need to be able to interact with their floodplains. Avoid the temptation to ‘tidy’ rivers and streams. Fallen trees and vegetation (unless causing an immediate risk to property) should be left as critical habitat. Follow us on Facebook and sign up to our newsletter here to get the latest news about this river.  Most of all make sure you take time to enjoy the river, whatever form that takes.”

If you want to start water sampling or if you know a business that would be willing to sponsor a sampling kit then FLOW would like to hear from you.  Contact Adam on 07389 722260 or email: Website: Facebook:

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