Some days I find myself thinking we are just wasting our time. Today was one of those days.

We’ve been pleased with results of our efforts to cut erosion and diffuse pollution at Culroy Burn in the Doon catchment. This has taken 3 years and a lot of unpaid man hours by ART staff and significant contributions from the DSFB for fencing and other works. Additionally, several landowners on the Culroy have contributed their share towards fencing and the local school childern have done their bit with tree planting. A truly collaborative approach that has seen water quality in the burn improve and the habitat that was coated with sediment become clean and suitable for spawning again.

Crystal clear water at Sauchrie earlier this winter and no fine sediment on the bed to be seen…as it should always be!

All good so far? Yes, we’ve been checking the burn regularly and been very pleased with results. SEPA have acknowledged that we’ve made a difference and the strategy has been working. We even discussed holding a demonstration event for green engineering at our site on the Culroy in a meeting with SEPA last week.

So all was good until I visited the burn today. I pitched up this afternoon around 3pm to see filthy water, really filthy, mucky water with a horrible khaki tinge to it. I pinpointed where this was entering the Culroy Burn to a small tributary upstream of our uppermost fenced area at Sauchrie and immediately called SEPA. After 10 minutes on the phone giving as much  detail as I could, I hung up and set about investigation the source.  I took photos and video and looked more closely at the bed of the burn. It was thick with fine sediment and perhaps some other organic material but I can’t be certain of that. Hopefully SEPA will be able to iddentify all the different pollutants that are affecting it through water samples. I expect this hasn’t just happened as the entire burn is coated with sediment and that’s new since my last visit a few weeks ago.

Water quality today was not as expected….this is frustrating beyond belief

The entire bed was coated with fine sediment…and this didn’t just happen in one day. This has been going on for some time

I had the drone with me so I flew it upstream on the Garryhorn burn where the sediment was obviously coming from. It didn’t take long until I spotted several issues. Banks have been regraded, ditches cleared but that still wasn’t the source of the sediment. I jumped in the car heading upstream and there it was…a digger dredging the burn. Now this is a small burn by this point but that still shouldn’t mean anyone can dredge it out at this time of the year and without any attempt to control sediment. I called SEPA again and was informed they will attend tomorrow if they couldn’t make it before the end of today.By then it was 4.27 so I presume it will be tomorrow before the local team will send a water officer out.

Just some of the issues leading to the sediment pollution. I expect a walk over visit on this ground will reveal extensive ditching and problems. I saw quite a few just driving up the road

Hardly a trout survives in this burn…is it any wonder?

I’ll be calling them with more information in the morning in any case now that I’ve looked closely at the video I shot. Frankly, the team at ART were all really disappointed with this today. It is just another set back and one that would dishearten even the most enthusiastic team, as we have at ART! I hope SEPA take adequate action on this to ensure it never happens again from this source. I expect the DSFB will have strong opinions on this too after all their investment.

While searching for the source of the main problem, I picked up another issue coming from the old curling ponds at Sauchrie and will ask SEPA to check this too.

1 step forwards and 10 back is how this feels today.