Monday, July 1, 2013

A mobility scooter ride to Eutrophia

For the purposes of maintaining an acceptable pressure of blood and all things anger management I have put off chucking this piece of rubbish together for forty eight hours, in the hope that the vein on the side of my forehead would not start to pulse three paragraphs in. But first, here’s Bob with the weather.

A dry week and fishing has toughened up a touch but not to the degree that we have experienced post mayfly for some years, the odd fish will still snap at a mayfly but most have been taken on olive patterns at all times of the day, there are a few sedge about and there are fewer fish in the book with DDL written next to their name than recent seasons past. Water colour was an issue a few days after the weed cut ended, and the river still maintains a milky hue. Many have commented on it but no one has a definitive reason other than it was a heavy weed cut. On this river spring ditches that had remained dry for over two and a half years collected organic crud that was washed into the river during last winter’s flows. It may be that some of this material lay beneath weed that has now been cut and the crud is exposed to the flow. As weed grows and also when it is cut, water is pushed into areas where it wouldn’t normally flow where sediment and organic matter may have collected.

It’s just a guess,

A painful experience was averted earlier this week, while whirling around with my strimmer, plugged into appropriate music to maintain my rate of work, I inadvertently barged into a swarm of bees, a passive bunch they had massed on a branch of an apple tree and didn’t seem to mind my buzzing about them. I haven’t seen one here for a few years and normally you hear them before you see them but this lot were quiet and content and hung around for a couple of hours before pushing off..

In a further attempt to stave off my pulsing vein, I am writing this while watching a pleasant Sunday game of village cricket in bright sunshine and a gentle zephyr, flying above are a pair of Kites. Most cricket grounds in the Hampshire league currently play host to a Kite or two, they are becoming as much a part of match day as bats, bails and tea, their reintroduction over a decade ago has certainly proved successful, an electrician who fiddled with our fuse box two years back and is housed near the site of the original release said he looked skyward while picking some beans one summer and counted eleven in the air.

And that’s it, the vein is starting to pulse and I can put it off no more.

Earlier this week I was required to spend several hours mixing with the cream of town society while a man with oil on his hands and golden spanners set fire to many of my twenty pound notes in an attempt to fix our car. Wandering the high street I mused on the need for so many coffee shops and mobile phone emporia, and why do we have three mobility scooter hire shops in the Shopping centre? a Para Olympic legacy, or a direct result of the high st McDonalds closing down and moving to a "drive through" operation on the edge of town. I know for some the acquisition of their first mobility scooter can be a life changing moment, and provides valuable independence and freedom. But some people in this town are now using them as a recreational vehicle. Driving into town, parking the car and if the second “all day breakfast" is sitting a bit heavy then lets hire a mobility scooter at £3.50 an hour to tootle about town. Are we turning into a generation of daleks?

Fed up with the unsatisfactory retail experience on the high st, I wandered out of town pausing briefly to furnish the oily handed one with a fresh pile of twenty pound notes with which to stoke his fire. On the outskirts of town is a nature reserve. Previously a put and take trout fishery with small fish farm it was purchased by the borough in order that the town’s population should receive an environmental experience. There are a few hundred yards of river which has had much work carried out on it, with woody debris very much to the fore and a plethora of signs from the media and communications department informing joe public of what they are about to experience and trumpeting the return of the cormorant and otter, and then there are the lakes.

The larger of the two contains a small population of fish and the proletariat are permitted to fish, the other I am sure would reverentially be termed a “sanctuary” by a man made from muesli clad in the finest fleece and cutting edge walking shoes. It's a skip and a giggle away from eutrophia, and to compound the problem upwards of a million gallons a day of the river’s water is being pushed through it. A Eutrophic Lake is a body of nutrient rich water in which simple plants thrive, algae to be precise. On the sunny afternoon that I visited I circumnavigated the lake accompanied by the obligatory mobility scooters (one parked up, before clambering down the bank to feed some ducks) Algae covered much of the lake bed and blobbed up to the surface in the sunshine before making its way to the exit and out into the river. A few days prior to my lake visit I had been asked to accompany some anglers to a beat a few hundred yards downstream from the lake, and had been surprised to see blanket weed coming down the river and hanging up on amongst other things “woody debris”. I took the following video on my complicated phone before returning home in a half fixed car via the garage.

An email was fired off to command centre central along with the video complementing them on their stretch of river and enquiring as to why this lake had a million gallons a day of river water passing through it. I was informed that following lengthy discussion between the relevant agencies and the council over whether the lake should be kept “off line” or “ on line” it had been decided that they would plump for the latter, a decision I suggested they should revisit.
Taken “offline” the lake would have a funny few months with algae blooming and crashing but a balance would eventually be reached, we took exactly the same course of action here with the flight pond around fifteen years ago. But an offline lake would not provide the ready supply of blanket weed that was bowling on down the stream. Now this is not to say that all online lakes are bad, I can name half a dozen “online lakes” that are not eutrophic are well managed and have little effect on the river that they feed but there are many that need looking at. Apparently Alresford Pond at the top of the Itchen has its Eutrophic status listed on its SSSI citation which is bonkers, the lake in our neighbouring town is impacting on the river below and needs taking “off line” it’s a no brainer. If it was happening upstream from here on the Dever, the faeces would be flying towards the fan.

And then I read the paper,

Not a day goes by without mention of fracking in the paper. The media wing of the pro fracking lobby have given battle, we are told that the risk of possible blackouts has risen if we don’t find some fuel and the rewards for pro fracking towns will be many. Earlier this week a Government minister, a right Cnut by the sound of it, decreed that “earthquakes would not be allowed” (his precise words) well that's plate tectonics taken care of, now for the waves and tides. This weekend another MP wrote that the risks posed by fracking have been ramped up by “ideologically driven environmental activists”

that would be me then, although I’d have gone for “addled middle aged crank”

I don’t think I am the former, although I'd own up to the latter. I like electricity, and if fracking can be carried out safely and risk free then It makes sense to explore this possible source of fossil fuel, but recent events in my narrow field of life suggest that decision makers at many levels are not quite up to the job and engender little confidence that correct conclusions will be drawn from evidence presented.
I live and work in a chalkstream valley that relies on groundwater to survive, I have genuine concerns over the source of water for Fracking and its subsequent disposal once used, particularly if it takes place within a few miles of this river. If things don't go to plan, for large parts of the South of England this could be the equivalent of pissing in a fast dimishing well.
I don’t expect this MP is a fisherman or has any understanding of chalkstreams and their ground water supply but I expect he lunches a lot with the other metrosexual tit (coming to a bird table near you) who suggested that we build houses on fields that are deemed to be uninteresting, what with the Generalissimo at Command Centre Central preaching about the wrong rain and the DEFRA minister declaring that the principle purpose of water ways is to get rid of water and they must be managed as such, whatever your political persuasion, we don’t seem to be blessed with the most gifted governers on either side of our elected house at the moment,and a self appointed pay rise of ten thousand pounds per annum doesn't seem like great value for Joe Public in these austere times. It’s a hermit's life in a loin cloth in a cave for me until someone sensible comes along.

Boris the Bold perhaps? Whose huge physical strength and sharp wit always kept him one step ahead of the evil emperor in his pursuit of Mariana

I have omitted to mention the list of suggested best practice from command centre central on chalkstream management out of fear for my throbbing vein, although I may come back to it in times more peaceable.

And then there is the BBC,

One hundred and fifty senior managers who were deemed to be not providing value for money to the tax payer have been laid off, each one received an average pay off of £164,000.

Twenty five million pounds on “golden goodbyes” Well that’s value for money then.

If some of this happened in a failed state it would be condemned as corrupt.

We are increasingly led by loons!!


Anonymous said...

"decision makers at many levels are not quite up to the job" sums it up for me. Perhaps we should up the ante... I agree about the mobility scooters as well, but never mind about a particular brand of lard-lubber that abuse them as they'd die young and free-up the state pension fund for the rest of us!
Back to fracking though. It'll be utterly insane of anyone to start fracking in this chalk deposit, the only one of its kind in the World. In my opinion the chalkstreams should be protected from such corrupt minds with World Heritage Site status. They certainly meet several of the criteria but I do wonder that if we do protect them will their custodians be allowed to continue to manage them as has been seen fit for generations to make them what they are today without interference and uniformity from central control?

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Thanks for your comments and for reading the rubbish that I write.

Fracking in the chalkstream environs is indeed a bit of a worry

Blue Box Batteries said...

Really interesting post, thanks for sharing it.