Over the course of the CtC project, we have had an amazing response from budding scientists across the catchment who have been eager to get hands-on with the river. The Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations (CSI) is the perfect way for people to do just that (and there may even be the occasional crime scene, where a pollution event happens!). The hidden scientists of society have been going out once a month throughout the year, taking samples of river water and testing it for phosphate levels, dissolved solids, temperature and clarity, among other physical observations, at their designated spot on the river.

Across the Culm and its tributaries, a total of 29 volunteers conducted CSI surveys in 2021, which allows us to paint a clear picture of what is going on in the river. From these surveys, staff at the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) have beavered away behind the scenes to approve them, communicate with volunteers and analyse the data. Those volunteers have contributed to the compilation of an invaluable body of evidence of river health on each water body tested. Then, using a bit of technical wizardry, the CSI Scorecards are produced. For 2020 only one Scorecard for the Lower Culm was produced – but thanks to the humongous efforts of CSI volunteers in 2021 we now have SIX Scorecards representing the Culm catchment for the following water bodies (Culm & tributaries):

Take a look at the Scorecards featured in this article by clicking on the above links or through the CtC Library here and see if there’s one for a water body near you – if you’re not pleased with the score your nearest water body gets, join CSI and help gather more data to enable us to provide evidence to those organisations responsible for making a difference and changing the health of the river to make a better future for the Culm. You’ll see that across these water bodies there isn’t a score higher than 66% – with all only scoring ‘Fair’ for ecology – this is why volunteering opportunities such as those with DBRC, Riverfly and HBAG are also vital just like CSI. However, it is encouraging to see two of the tributaries and the Middle and Upper Culm with ‘Excellent’ ratings for dissolved solids – let’s keep it this way by continuing to monitor and record any incidents or possible sources that could have a negative impact.

Thank you to all the Culm CSI-ers for your hard work in 2021 (and so far in 2022!) collecting samples on the Culm, without you this level of monitoring wouldn’t be possible. If anyone would like to get involved in water quality monitoring in the future, please contact csi@wrt.org.uk

Once all of the scorecards for the Westcountry for the past year have been produced they will be up on the WRT website for viewing.

Montage of Westcountry CSI scorecards