WASP Turbidity Project
WASP volunteers are building a network of sampling points along the river and taking readings using the simple and effective WASP Turbidity Wand.
The idea is to take some easily sourced things that you can find during the lockdown and make a simple and effective gauge to describe how deep you can see into the river and attribute a score to it.
This is how to make one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk09eAOc-jQ
Of course our volunteers can't help but demonstrate their creativity and we have already seen these fine examples reach the river.
WASP also uses video and photographic evidence to show the vivid difference between the river today and in the past. We also have many credible witness accounts from people who have been warning of the steady decline over the years. The changes are shocking and your photos and observations are welcome.
This is from a video taken by Paul Woodley who is on the turbidity team.
Why does it matter how murky the river is?
This is worth studying carefully. Look how time adds to the damaging effects - we have been seeing very long periods of high turbidity in recent years.
The dotted red lines are from our electronic meter readings last year. The WASP wand scale is different and whereas larger numbers are worse on the electronic scale of NTU, the wand scale goes the opposite way and low numbers are bad.
Our growing team is taking readings and recording them on the Epicollect 5 database which we share with the Environment Agency.
The figures refer to the number of samples recorded and the red lines where we would like to recruit more samplers.
Last year the turbidity of the river going into the much clearer Thames at Newbridge in early July got our attention. The water temperature was about 19 degrees back then at Standlake - just upstream.
This year we have seen the same effect but in mid April at only about 11 degrees with the river carrying a lot more filamentous algae after a winter of extensive sewage spilling. Are these things connected? Providing data for a study will help unravel the story.