This project started in 2015 when Essex & Suffolk Water, who own and manage Abberton Reservoir, noticed a rapid reduction in the abundance of submerged plant life in the reservoir close to where Layer Brook flows in. Investigations had failed to explain the loss of plant life but have identified an increased build-up of sediment from Layer Brook. This part of the TOPSOIL project aims to bring greater certainty to the sources and effects of sedimentation in the reservoir. Here is a summary article of the project objectives written in the first year.
In the last 5 years we have undertaken surveys to ascertain the impact of crayfish populations on sediment levels, and completed turbidity monitoring at different times, including during heavy rainfall events. We also worked with MSc students to conduct sediment fingerprinting work to identify the source of sediment. The results are here.
The next steps were to engage farmers around measures to prevent sediment run-off into Layer Brook, which includes working with a handful of farmers to implement practical measures such as leaky dams. In 2021 we are planning to complete these final steps of the project and get the on-the-ground work completed.
We hope this project will have positive impact on the water quality and plant life in Layer Brook, making the landscape here more resilient to the effects of climate change.