Kick Samples

Mark displaying the collection of kick sampling equipmentIn conjunction with the Environment Agency, CATCH now undertakes regular monitoring of the health of the River Cale by a method known as kick sampling. (A description of how kick sampling is conducted can be found here.)

On these pages, we will publish the results of our kick samples, in a format which – hopefully – will make sense to the general public! Each species of insect that is monitored, is represented by a category – a,b,c,d – depending upon how many of that insect was found. Category a represents a sample of between 1 and 10: category b, between 11 and 100; category c, between 101 and 1000, and so on. An overall “site score” is then calculated counting a=1, b=2, c=3…   this score is then compared against the trigger level set by the Environment Agency; currently the trigger level is 3. If the site score drops to, or below, this level then we alert the EA to investigate what has caused the loss of invertebrate life.

Darren and Paul inspecting the samplesAs of July 2014, it will be seen that the site scores are well above this trigger level, indicating a healthy river environment. The site score may vary considerably depending on normal seasonal factors, so a drop in the site score does not automatically mean there has been a pollution incident; once we have a series of results covering a full year or more, we will have a better idea of which changes are usual and which ones are a cause for concern.

The dates for our kick sampling tests are usually arranged about a week in advance, and will be published here and via Twitter and Facebook; anyone is welcome to come along, although be advised that the second site under the A303 bridge involves walking through undergrowth and over a few stiles. The site at Wincanton Beach is much more accessible for the casual observer.

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