Registered Charity Number: 1037414

Summer 2017

September 28th, 2017 in News by emily

This summer has been busy as ever with work in the field on wetland regeneration, minewater treatment, sewage related endocrine disrupters (including oestrogenic materials and their mimics) and water resources. Work on flood water management hand pollution movement brought about by flood events has also been taking up a proportion of time.

In Turkey a short study of a several hundred if not thousand year old leat system of irrigation of castanetum (chestnut tree plantation) and its management on the edge of the city of Isparta. This was highly instructive linking our background research on leats on Dartmoor.

Wetland Regeneration.

The Trusts collection of reeds (Phragmites australis) have been a useful research group after their move from Newark to Birmingham. The established rhizomes have suffered stress with the last two years growth not culminating with flower/seed heads. This growing season has seen a phenomenal increase in height of the plants with part of the stand growing to nearly 3.5 metres (usually 2-2.5 metres). The plants have this season flowered but the flower/seed heads are only 1/3 of normal size.


Our work in this area continues. Red Media research has come on and is now being further used by water companies for phosphate removal.

Work in Devon should see one site soon revegetated where now it is a barren wasteland. The tailings lagoons, one which just over two years ago attempted to drown me will be drying through and the water will be channelled from the mine portal through a remediation friendly route across the site.

The Northumbrian minewater/energy project is still active but if the Coal Authority does not move soon the opportunity will be lost alongside the three years investment by the Trust.


Endocrine Disruption

There are 3 types of oestrogens in our rivers, according to this only UK Government sponsored study, Fate & Behaviour of Oestrogens in Rivers: Scoping report (Natural Environment Research Council 1999) from the Environment Agency. They are:

  • Natural oestrogens – oestrone
  • 17β-estradiol
  • Synthetic ethinyl-oestradiol

Official research, financed by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (D.E.F.R.A) and the official Natural Environment Research Council, has shown that half of the male fish in our rivers are changing sex due to pollution.

A synthetic form of oestrogen found in lowland rivers all over the country has resulted in male fish developing female characteristics. Just under 50 per cent of the male fish had developed eggs in their testes, and/or female reproductive ducts. One in ten male fish were sterile, and around a quarter had damaged sperm. In some sections of rivers all the male fish have been feminised (as reported in the Independent1998, 2001, 2015 and 2017). These feminised males are found in all rivers including the Lea River in Hertfordshire from which London takes much of its drinking water and the Avon in Bristol.

The issue is that the same hormones are entering drinking water and affecting human health and fertility. By consuming oestrogen in tap water over years are likely have a detrimental effect on male fertility, reducing sperm count: work in the US that has been published in the last month would concur with this concern.

The synthetic oestrogen hormone – ethanol oestradiol – is used in the contraceptive pill as well as HRT pharmaceuticals. It is between 50 to 100 times more powerful than natural oestrogens, also one of the most difficult chemicals to breakdown. The urine of women who take the pill or are undergoing HRT then passes through sewage works before ending up in the river. With conventional sewage treatment ineffective at removing the synthetic hormone from water supplies makes this a serious issue, especially as at least third of all of our drinking water comes from rivers.

The Environment Agency and the European Environment Agency are looking towards the American EPA who are under pressure to act against pharmaceutical companies with either a ban or requirement to remove their products from large scale sewage treatment works. The methods that might be used are though expensive. In the UK such removal schemes are likely to be difficult to put in place due to the fragmented nature of sewage treatment, pharmacological compound prescription and other originators of oestrogen in sewage including petrochemical, plastics, and paint manufacturers.

The Trust has carried out further research into the extraction of ethanol based oestrogens using low cost methodologies using carbon filtration and wetland treatment. Along with the extractive processes the Trust has now started to look at the recycling of compounds that might allow the costs to be underwritten by their reuse.

In this area of reapplying oestrogenic compounds to efficacious use there is some concern within the pharmaceutical manufacturing fraternity that these ideas may cut profit margins or lead to other companies making cheaper alternatives.

Flooding and Pollution Mitigation and Management.

The Environment Agency has taken up our concerns regarding pollution migration from contaminated sites. The research is to be carried out by a number of academic and consultancy organisations.

Our work will also continue: particularly that which will allow protection of vulnerable sites.


The work on the watersheds emanating from the Taurus Mountains in the regions of Isparta and Antalya has been instructive in many areas. These include the large number of amphibians and snakes, tortoises and terrapins that are present in the area. The lack of text books on reptiles and snakes of Asia Minor is frustrating as identification takes longer.

The lakes, natural and manmade for hydro-electricity are also included in the research. Borax and other mineral production have major environmental impacts.


Some work is being carried out using papyrus sourced from the lost cliff delta of the Antalya Plain: the plants were emerging through cracked concrete paving. Papyrus marsh treats the semi treated sewage from Kampala, Uganda which was visited in 2012. It protects the integrity of the water of Lake Victoria. There is no planning for the use of the marsh and this accidental use has demonstrated several issues that need to be addressed in designed reedbed treatment schemes: these include wildlife, smell and longevity.

Horse tail (Equisetum) are also being looked at for metal binding on metals contaminated sites. These plants are remarkable for many reasons, they are markers of metal concentrations for minerals prospection: these plants have been in existence in one form or another for at least 300 million years with giant forms being found in the fossil sequences in coal strata.


The short study of leats outside Isparta City have been fascinating, the realisation that they fed Sweet Chestnut plantations, some of the trees being more than 1000 years old. Turkey is the second largest commercial grower of chestnuts globally, though most are not exported as chestnuts (60,000 tons) the rest being used in confectionary and foodstuffs that are exported adding value (in excess of 1 million tons).


Chestnuts require a high volume of water to be available at very precise times in their annual cycle of growth but drought conditions at others so a strict irrigation management regime is operated by the farmers. Many of whom appear to only own a few trees in a forest and each holding maintains a small length of leat system. Amongst the trees other areas of clearly terraced land were noticeable which now are redundant. These ‘fields’ were once for growing crops prior to the establishment of the plantations. These are possibly enclosures going back 3000 years with the leats now used for the trees originally used to irrigate wheat and barley.

Newstead and South Nottinghamshire Coalfield.

We (PS and myself) met with Mark Spencer and a number of interested parties: developers, local authority CE, county and borough councillors and Coal Authority to broach the subject of energy and mines in the area. A very instructive session with a great deal of interest shown. CA instructed us on the non-show of water at Calverton that had been expected and the filling up of the workings at Annesley. CA are having to review and revise plans with possible new pumping at Linbey and Newstead.

Wales Wood Yard and Manufacturer of Chipboard.

The Trust visited a site at Chirk on the border of Wales to look at issues regarding water audit and pollution prevention of the River Dee Catchment. A work outline has been submitted and we await a response.

Harworth Estates.

The Trust has carried out small pieces of consultancy for Harworth regarding sites at Daw Mill and Derbyshire tar pits. There is more work possible during the autumn period.

Coal Authority

The Authority’s Innovations Team used our ceramics laboratory to carry out work with waste from a minewater treatment scheme. There have been several meetings regarding developments at several sites and research that might be needed at new treatment facilities.


Nottingham Trent University.

Two departments within the university are researching minewater issues with a poor communications regime between them. Hopefully this will now change as we have links to both.

The research on saline minewater (John Moore, NTU and UN) and natural saline springs will, with luck, get fully underway this year.

The CA have given us some new data which will allow for a better understanding of what is occurring at A Winning minewater treatment scheme and the ground between Langton and Newstead.

Harvey Wood

September 2017


Author: emily

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