A volunteer sampling invertebrate populations in the Kentish Stour near Wye bridge for the Anglers' Riverfly Monitoring Initiative
Wye Flows is a citizen science project which centres on the River Stour and its water quality and life. The river flows through the parish for over five miles and becomes a chalk stream at Wye bridge as it flows through the Stour Gap.
The world only has some 200 chalk streams, so the Kentish Stour is a rare and biologically rich habitat. Iconic native species like otters, kingfishers, Atlantic salmon, and more recently beavers, all rely on a healthy river for their survival. Volunteers monitor the populations of freshwater invertebrates (riverflies) at regular intervals at Wye and other locations.
Riverflies are an important food source for fish, birds, mammals and other invertebrates. Some species are also sensitive to pollution and they act as indicators of water quality and climate change impacts.
Although the Environment Agency has a statutory duty to monitor and protect water quality it lacks the staff. In 2022 Kent Wildlife Trust volunteers have started to test the nitrate and phosphate levels in the river, as the phosphate data provides strong evidence of pollution from untreated sewage discharges upstream.
The Rivers Trust is a charity that collates and maps data on the many known discharge points at waste treatment works. This data shows that there are many uncontrolled discharges into the River Stour from sewage works and combined sewers upstream of Wye. Averaged over the year these discharges occurred for over eleven hours in every twenty four.