• Water

    Culmstock

    Water
  • Water

    The Basins

  • Water

    Longforth Farm

    Longforth Farm Pond
  • Water

    Flooding at Nynehead Road

    Flooding at Nynehead
  • Water

    The Basins

    The Basins, Wellington
  • Water

    Flooding at Nynehead Road

    Flooding at Nynehead
  • Water

    Wildlife pond

    Wildlife pond Wellington
  • Water

    Beavers

    Beavers
  • Water

    The Basins

  • Water

    Culmstock

    Water
  • Water

    Longforth Farm

    Longforth Farm Pond
  • Water

    Flooding at Nynehead Road

    Flooding at Nynehead
  • Water

    The Basins

    The Basins, Wellington
  • Water

    Flooding at Nynehead Road

    Flooding at Nynehead
  • Water

    Wildlife pond

    Wildlife pond Wellington
  • Water

    Beavers

    Beavers
  • Water

    The Basins

Water

Over many years the quality of our waters – both around our coastline and inland – has been declining. This has often made news headlines. According to data that was presented to the high court, it’s reckoned that water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers and seas via their storm overflows more than 300,000 times in 2022.

There is also a problem with pollutants running off agricultural land, which, together with the sewage, not only presents a danger to wild swimmers and children playing in streams, but is a serious threat to wildlife.

Whilst it is true that nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are necessary for plant growth, in some areas, including the Somerset Levels, these are too high. This results in excessive weed and algae growing which damages aquatic life.

So, while it does seem that we are finally waking up to the water quality problem and despite the government doubling its funding to support farmers in reducing water and air pollution from their land, this nowhere near enough.

Water Authorities have been paying huge sums in bonuses to the people in charge of protecting and enhancing the environment, as well as big dividends to their shareholders. All this while sewerage was being discharged into the rivers and the sea.

So what can we do? Becoming a Water Guardian (WG) is an interesting, useful and often fun way of helping. WGs are volunteers who regularly walk sections of water courses near to them about once a month. They can note any wildlife they see, remove litter, check the water quality (details below), and report any issues. It is hoped that volunteers can give approximately two hours a month for a minimum of twelve months. The day and time is flexible to suit the volunteer.

Within this group, there are several subsections and talks are sometimes given on subjects including beavers, water guardianship and even aquaponics – in fact, anything to do with water, rivers or ponds.

Water Guardians

Somerset Wildlife Trust, Wessex Water and Transition Town Wellington have joined forces to work towards cleaner rivers and good quality habitats for wildlife. Funded by Wessex Water, the aim of the project being to recruit and train local volunteers – the Wessex Water Guardians – to monitor watercourses, identify possible pollution incidents and report them to Wessex Water for further investigation.

The project focuses on various areas including the Somerset Levels and Moors. This is one of Somerset’s most protected landscapes for biodiversity, wintering waterfowl and waders, flower-rich wet grasslands and rich invertebrate communities. On the Levels and Moors nutrient loads are too high and the diminishing quality of our waters means that this internationally important protected landscape is at risk.

Here in Wellington, we want to monitor the River Tone and its tributaries, which are much loved aspects of our local environment.

Water Guardians are our eyes and ears on the ground, playing an integral role in both the health of their local river and in their communities. Ideally, they are asked to regularly walk a section of their local waterway to:

  • visually check the waterway at least once a month and promptly report any pollution concerns to Wessex Water
  • litter pick and report any fly tipping to the appropriate council
  • keep a brief log of hours and activity
  • (Optional extra) Report your wildlife sightings directly on iNaturalist to ensure your records feed into the county and national records.
  • (Optional extra) Completed a West Country CSI water test Survey, once a month or more, and submit the results on Cartographer.
  • Water sampling

    Water Guardians
  • Water sampling

    Water Guardians
  • Water sampling

    Water Guardians
  • Filming water sampling

    Water Guardians
  • Water sampling

    Water Guardians
  • Clearing the basins

    Water Guardians
  • Checking the wildlife

    Water Guardians
  • Tea and cake after work

    Water Guardians
  • Water guardians vest

    Water Guardians
  • Water guardians card

    Water Guardians
  • Water guardians meeting

    Water guardians

Watercourses as part of Nature Recovery Networks – Rivers, streams and other freshwater pools and lakes are crucial to sustain life on our planet, running like arteries across the beautiful county of Somerset. However, plastics, chemical pollution, climate change and surface run-off from roads and farms are just some of the reasons that less than a fifth of England’s rivers are considered healthy. Pollution and loss of natural features along rivers also have a knock-on impact on the surrounding habitats, the wildlife that depend on them and the oceans into which rivers flow.

By frequently monitoring water courses, responding to harmful pollution and practices and working together in partnerships we can help create a Nature Recovery Network. We want to see clean rivers joining up healthy habitats, flowing through the varied, working landscape of Somerset. We want to see waterways that are rich with fish and freshwater invertebrates, wetlands abundant in bird life and rivers that flow out to clean coastlines and oceans rich in marine life.

Wellington Basins Volunteer Group

The Wellington Basins Volunteer Group (WBVG) was formed in 1978 to maintain and enhance the area around the ponds, or basins, and streams. The basins and streams were originally used to power the Tonedale Mill. The group is funded by grants, donations and fundraising events.

WBVG meets regularly to cut the grass, trim the hedges, pick up litter and looking for any discarded fishing tackle. Other tasks that are necessary from time to time include keeping the footpaths clear, clearing any fallen trees, planting trees and wildflowers and maintaining the timber walkways and fishing platforms. Also the streams need attention to ensure that they flow freely. The group has also started looking after the wildlife pond in the community wood. The committee meets six times a year to to discuss plans and fundraising etc.

The area is rich in wildlife including swans, kingfishers, moorhens, mallards, herons egrets and black headed gulls. The waters contain a number of fish species including roach, perch, bream, pike, carp and common eels.

Wellington’s Historic Waterways – on film!

‘Stream Power – The Waters that made Wellington’ is a lovely film about the water courses around Wellington. It explains how this water was the reason that Tonedale Mill is located in the town. The Fox family and Tonedale Mill are fundamental to history of Wellington and its water courses. Richard Fox is featured in the movie and explains how the water systems were essential for the mill.

The film is very well made and will be of interest to everyone living in Wellington or those who visit the town regularly.

The film features the Basins – the mill ponds constructed in the early 19th century along with a complex network of leats, sluices, bridges, and wiers, to regulate water used by the Fox Brothers textile mill at Tonedale. It highlights the work of community groups – like the Basins Volunteer Group – who look after these precious waterways and the land around them.

Beavers

Although we don’t (yet! or as far as we know) have beavers in Wellington, they are nearby thanks to their successful reintroduction along the River Otter by the Devon Wildlife Trust. Along the 12-mile stretch of river between Honiton and Budleigh Salterton, visitors can see evidence of these fascinating creatures.

Farmer and renowned beaver-champion Chris Jones was one of our speakers in 2021, highlighting the vital role beavers play in revitalising wetland habitat, encouraging biodiversity, drawing down carbon, and helping in natural flood mitigation.

More information can be found on the Somerset wildlife trust beavers page and the main page of the trust where to see Beavers

  • Beaver meeting

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver meeting

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver meeting

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver meeting

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver meeting

    Subgroup Beavers
  • Beaver meeting

    Subgroup Beavers

Get involved

If you are interested in this group please fill in the form below

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