Placing the stickers

Yellow Fish guarding road drains in Kingsbridge & Salcombe

As part of the ‘Yellow Fish’ international awareness raising campaign, children from Salcombe and West Alvington Church of England  Primary Schools  placed ‘Yellow Fish’ drain markers on some local road drains last week, to help remind everyone that many of these drains are directly linked to their nearest natural water course.

In Kingsbridge and Salcombe this is the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary. As well as being the home of particularly rich and unusual communities of wildlife, the estuary is also hugely popular for active wet watersports – so the local community has a vested interest in its health.

South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s  Estuaries Officer, Nigel Mortimer, who worked with children said  “This campaign  highlights the link between the health of the waters downstream with how we care for them upstream. The children learnt about the incredible variety of water life right on their doorstep, from what’s found in their local streams to the hidden depths off the coast. They also learnt how much this life supports us and how with a little knowledge and a little effort it is so simple to care for, and thereby, ourselves.”

Gaby Leo, class teacher at Salcombe Primary said “The children thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Yellow Fish project and helping their local community.”

Local sinks, drains and gullies ultimately flow downstream and eventually, in South Devon the estuary and then out to sea. The Waste Water Treatment Works do a fantastic job of cleansing our waste waters but in turn the local population also holds a responsibility for the amount of chemicals and nutrients that are released from them.

Road drains should only be receiving rainwater as they often drain to their nearest stream, pond, estuary or beach; these are places that people  wouldn’t dream of littering but that is what will happen drains are used for waste! The drain markers help deliver the message “Only Rain Down The Drain – Flows to Estuary”. Cigarette butts are a prime example and to make matters worse their filters are actually made of plastic; so they don’t rot away and are full of chemicals that have proven to be toxic to some water life.

Groups of children from each school helped Nigel to glue the markers down with a special mastic and since this took place during National Science Week 2016, the children dressed as young scientists to protect them from the black sticky mastic. Everyone that the children engaged with in the towns of Kingsbridge and Salcombe thought that it was a really great idea. The placing of these smart markers has been fully supported by the town councils and relevant authorities. It is intend to involve further schools as the project develops.

South Devon Catchments Partnership, co-hosted by the AONB and Westcountry Rivers Trust, have used targeted Defra funding for this project as part of their ‘Addressing Nutrients in South Devon’ project. This project aims to engage the local community in reducing excess nutrients that feed ‘algal’ blooms within the Slapton Ley and Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary.