Peak Associates have been working for an aquaculture operator in rural Cumbria since 2010. The operator produces salmon smolt for maturing at their sea lochs in Shetland. The multinational brings £4 million to the UK economy each year.
The smolt unit utilises the compensation flow from a major reservoir that supplies drinking water to Greater Manchester. The discharged water is permitted by the Environment Agency with limits in place for biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and ammonia.
Any breaches of the permit carry the threat of prosecution by the Environment Agency and revoking of their permit. This would be detrimental to the economy and poses a threat to UK industry and exports.
Peak Associates embarked on an assessment of the discharge to the local watercourse and determined the relative impact to the catchment.
A permit variation has been submitted to the Environment Agency following a consultation period. This permit variation reflects the fact that the smolt unit has no significant negative impact on the receiving water body’s biological or physical parameters as monitored under the European Water Framework Directive. If successful, this permit variation will allow the smolt unit to remain compliant with the new limits set for a fixed period when the biomass peaks. Monitoring of the discharge will then continue in line with permit conditions.
This project has been supported by Lancaster University through the provision of an intern. The experience in water sampling and data analysis was invaluable for the student who went onto qualify for their degree. The university also has interest in how the relative impact on the whole catchment factors into diffuse pollution monitoring.