On 7th August I took a sample of the wildlife living in the brook next to the old mill. The pH of the water was 7.24, close to neutral, suggesting that here the brook is not affected much by pollution. The water was flowing quickly unlike at other points further upstream but was still quite shallow. Although we only took a small sample, the collection of organisms found showed that the brook is in fact a very important habitat. There were lots of water slaters, freshwater leeches and stonefly nymphs. It was disappointing not find any larger creatures such as fish which were found elsewhere. This may because there is not deep enough water or because there is not enough space due to the overhanging water cress.
The overhanging plants now obscure much of the water from view. I have noticed increased growth towards the left of the brook in this location since I began this project in July.
I have been considering the prospect of erecting a walkway between St Mary's Street and Blake Street and I have thought of several more issues that need to be considered. The plants if growing under the walkway would have limited access to light and may subsequently die. The death of the plants could have an adverse effect on the brook because the dead plants may reduce the water flow. On the other hand, the removal of some of the vegetation and the shelter of the walkway may provide a habitat for some different species which would not obstruct the brook.
I think that the brook at this point would provide a good source of renewable energy if a turbine was installed under the old mill. The energy that this produced could be used to power the lights to illuminate the walkway.
We also noticed that the old buildings on either side of the brook seemed to be a perfect habitat for bats as was mentioned in a previous meeting. I think this is an important issue to consider when thinking about the design of the walkway and perhaps would be interesting to think about the opportunity of constructing a bat run.
Above all, I think the construction of a walkway would improve public awareness about conservation in the Bridgwater area and if the museum was still open provide an increase in visitors. A board could be erected explaining the previous importance of the brook and its current status as a significant habitat.
Before Christmas I am hoping to take another sample of the wildlife in the Durleigh Brook to see the effect of increased rainfall and investigate the possibility of a flow of brackish water from the Parrett.