Looking after our precious freshwater ecosystems amongst the myriad of other environmental and social challenges sometimes seems impossible and that our voices are drowned by more immediately pressing societal matters – jobs, the pandemic, the huge number of complex social issues for instance. Solutions must be found however, and it is likely that finding them will involve the whole of Society in some way or another – either as consumers, communities, or movements of people who are concerned about the environment in which we and future generations will live. It will require creativity and innovation for our governments and industry on a scale which is perhaps greater than we have yet faced. That is why it is encouraging to see initiatives from our Universities such as Bristol University’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
This year we have been delighted to help one of the Bristol University student projects set up as part of the centre’s ongoing education package – project Medusa – led by Jessie Brown and Margherita Sonnino Sorisio. This project is raising awareness of pharmaceutical pollution products which enter our waterways by monitoring some of our local rivers and streams. They have done this in places which are familiar to many of us in the Bristol area and will test to see which of 75 common pharmaceutical elements are found there.
BART has helped identify these sites so they represent some of the project areas we are working in and we joined Jessie and Margherita at some of the sites for the monitoring. They will be sharing the results with us when they become available. We then hope to work together to see how BART might take forward this sort of monitoring within some of our other work in the future.
One of the sites was the Shallows at Saltford on the Bristol Avon between Bristol and Bath – a very popular spot for many who use the river. The photos show a few of those we met on the day enjoying the river despite goosebumps from the chilly water. – All had heard of the concerns expressed in the press and social media about the poor water quality in our rivers and were as keen as BART are to see improvements in the future.
It was great to work with such enthusiastic and caring young people and another small step towards safeguarding our precious local rivers – and congratulations to Jessie and Margherita for achieving a first class honours award for their project.