The River Kennet that flows through Marlborough and surrounds is a wonderful asset to the area. Action for the River Kennet (ARK) are keen to help people keep the river and its wildlife in tip top condition.
Anna Forbes from ARK says “It’s the time of year when many people are having autumn tidy ups and sometimes this includes their stretches of river/riverbanks. Often the tidying up can actually have a negative impact on the river and its wildlife, but we have found once armed with up to date information people are very happy to change what they do. With this in mind we are sharing tips on how people can look after their stretch.” The following are the key points:-
Don’t mow right to the edge. If your garden backs on to the river keep a ‘buffer zone’ between the bank and mown land. Well established tall plants above ground create a strong root structure below the ground. This means a strong river bank held together by roots, which reduces erosion and creates a good habitat for wildlife.
A buffer of riparian vegetation slows down surface water runoff, catching sediment before it reaches the river. Sediment clogs up gravel river beds and prevents wild fish from spawning.
Leave Watercress in the river. This native plant naturally narrows the channel in times of low flow. The flow is faster, keeping the water more oxygenated and the gravel riverbed clean and free of algae. It also provides a refuge for small fish and invertebrates.
Keep your compost heap away from the river. Compost heaps are good, but not near rivers. As grass clippings and plant matter break down they leach nutrients into the watercourse. High nutrient levels promote algal growth, which smothers healthy green aquatic plants. Put your compost as far from the river as you can.
Never throw garden waste into the river, this is simply littering and will pollute the water and could cause obstructions, leading to flooding.
Septic tanks. If your property is on a septic tank make sure it is well maintained and opt for phosphate free cleaning products. Septic tanks can’t remove phosphate, which is a pollutant for rivers. You can reduce phosphate levels by buying products that are phosphate free.
Slow the flow. Look for ways to catch and slow water through your garden. This will allow water to slowly filter into the ground, recharging the aquifer with clean water, and keeping our river flowing for longer.
Use water wisely. All our water comes from the aquifer that feeds the river, if you use less water there will more left in the river.
For more information on how you can help maintain the river visit www.riverkennet.org