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Volunteering to monitor Chalk Streams

River Water Quality Surveys

Chalk streams are unique ecosystems and globally rare.  There are only about 200 chalk streams in the world, and most of them are in the southern half of England.  However, as is evident from recent news and events, water quality is a major issue at this time.

With the rising concern of the quality of the water in the Pillhill Brook (and other rivers in then Test Valley Catchment area) the Parish Council took the initiative to encourage the establishment of an Upper Clatford Chalk Stream Monitoring Group.  There was a strong response to an invitation for anyone interested to sign up for training and in February, 22 parishioners from Upper Clatford and Goodworth Clatford went through a day’s training on how to carry out vital work to monitor the state of the river.

The monitoring arrangements that have been put in place, entirely run by volunteers from across the test Valley, include two survey types which generate related streams of data on the state of our river:

  1. Anglers River-fly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), which is coordinated by the RiverFly Partnership ( This involves monthly checks from riverbank for the presence of some specific indicator species such as Caddis fly, Mayfly, Stonefly and Freshwater Shrimp. The results tell us something about the recent impact on these indicators species of any recent changes in river quality.  The data gathered is entered into the ARMI national data base scheme ensuring that water quality is checked widely and regularly, so that, if the data signifies a problem, remedial action can be taken at the earliest opportunity by the Environment Agency and other stakeholders.
  2. The Angling Trust Water Quality Monitoring Network (WQMN) water quality testing system.  For The Angling Trust's Annual Report on Water Quality Monitoring Network, please see  For details of the WQMN testing kit see  This test includes, as a minimum, measures of Phosphates, Nitrates, Electrical Conductivity and Temperature. Where appropriate or deemed necessary, other indicators of water quality are also measured. These measurements therefore clonfirm the quality of the water at the time the tests are carried out.

Safety training and equipment is provided by the Watercress & Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme (W&W) led by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and the Wessex Rivers Trust ( Volunteers register with W&W so that they are properly trained and insured.  Twenty two parishioners from Upper Clatford and Goodworth Clatford have completed the day training.

Due to current high river levels and strong flows the PBA is only carrying out activity b) water quality testing. Once conditions improve, the intention is to recommence ARMI monitoring.


Coordinating trained volunteers

Janet Wright, who is the Secretary of the Pan Parish Forum (see separate tab Pan Parish Forum), acts as the central coordinator for both activities and work with the Watercress & Winterbournes Landscape Partnership Scheme (W&W) to ensure all Pillhill Brook volunteers, having been through the W&W Training programme, get all the help and assistance they need to feel confident in eventually carrying out site surveys unaided. The Pillhill Brook Association (PBA) currently has 5 active sites set up along the brook.

The PBA Water Quality WhatsApp group helps coordinate and organise Pillhill Brook volunteers activities. The PBA hopes to be able to add an additional test site in Balksbury Park, once this has been agreed with the Parish Council.

In addition, there are other sites on the Anton and Test where volunteers can get additional practical experience which if required, Janet can assist with.


If you are interested in volunteering please contact Charles Crosthwaite Eyre on email or call on 07730 304 290 providing your name, address and  telephone number.