River water quality at Saltford - Saltford Parish Council

Saltford Parish Council is not responsible for the quality of water at the River Avon in Saltford. For user awareness, there have been several reports of children and young people becoming ill following swimming in the River Avon in Saltford. In 2018, a 12 year old child was placed in isolation for three nights at Bristol Children’s Hospital after swimming in the river at Saltford. Symptoms reported include vomiting, diarrhoea, and severe dehydration.

To find out about river water quality in Saltford please use this BART interactive map (more information below), or The Rivers Trust ‘Is my river fit to play in’ map. The Rivers Trust advise as follows: Avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges and avoid the overflows (brown circles), especially after it has been raining.

Records show that in 2020 the storm overflow near Kelston Weir in Saltford spilled 94 times into the River Avon in Saltford for a total of 150hrs. A second storm overflow on The Shallows near under the cycle path bridge spilled 62 times for a total of 68hrs into the River Avon at Saltford. There are two further storm overflows spilling into the river at Saltford.

When approached for comment in autumn 2020, B&NES Council informed Saltford Parish Council that combined sewer overflows – better known as storm overflows – protect properties from flooding by acting as relief valves for a mix of rainwater and foul sewage water. It also provided SPC with a copy of a document produced by Wessex Water named ‘Our sewer system and storm overflows‘.

Further to storm overflows, a sewage treatment works is located close to Saltford Weir. A spokesman for the Environment Agency said in 2018 that discharge from the sewage treatment works run downstream away from its location. Due to concerns about the impact of water quality on public health, when approached by Saltford Parish Council about storm overflows in 2020, the Environment Agency stated that it does not test water quality at Saltford Weir as it is not a designated bathing area.

The Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) runs an annual WaterBlitz event each summer where volunteers on behalf of BART aim to collect as many samples from the rivers, streams and lakes of the Bristol Avon catchment. his helps to gain a snapshot of water quality. Saltford Parish Council helps to publicise this initiative. BART supplies free water testing kits to volunteers which will measure nutrient levels in a water sample taken from a chosen waterbody. In high concentrations nutrients can impact the local wildlife which depends on a healthy river. The presence of these nutrients may indicate a pollution event nearby or ongoing issues from land management, sewage outfalls or urban pressures. The results help BART target their ongoing conservation work. To see results from WaterBlitz events please visit BART’s interactive WaterBlitz map.

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