Work began on the rock ramp at Howden weir in autumn last year, well, these were the works that can be seen by those passing by or living near by. Plans for the easement of the weir have been ongoing in offices of various organisations for several years. Ending with the builders having moved off site in May, then the time came to mark the rock ramps arrival.


Works like this can easily by-pass awareness of folks who are going to see it change over the next few years, on a day by day basis, where the bare rock will go through a process of greening and vegetation. Works like this have a lot of processes guiding them, ranging from funding to design, to actually building it. The ECoW Q&A sessions were designed in part to answer the questions of locals, those river path following dog walkers and curious passersby people. So they can find out  what the work in the river was for, why it was being done and how it was being managed to reduce impact on the environment, the very thing it sought to improve.


The friday afternoon was an on-off drizzly type of day, the sort that seems to have dominated early summer so far. The river was behaving and was neither in full spate or a low flow, meaning that the ramp was easy to see from the viewing platform and Scot/Amy could get in to the river to get invertebrates. A number of people (about 35 in total) popped along that afternoon and unlike many events, where thetents are rammed and we don’t get to spend much time chatting with individuals, then this was a much more relaxed affair and conversation happened easily.


A number of school kids from St. Margrets stopped by with Iain taking time to show them some of the invertebrates from the river and exploring how scientists use them to judge the quality of river environments. Younger children with their dads made some cased caddis fly larvae and did wax rubbings to create their own riverbed compositions. I had some lovely insights from local wildlife enthusiasts about the fish they caught in the area and the birds and otters that they saw.


It’s always really interesting in Livingston, due to it being a new town, the stories about how the river has changed over time. A gentleman told me about how he’d seen the obvious pollution events, those that are easily visible, such as oil or factory works untreated discharge, and how this had reduced over the years. Also, how the vegetation designed for the town had now grown into mature trees, filling areas of bare ground that had been disturbed by house building. These spaces were now filled with birds, otters and bats that had returned to the now parks and wild areas along the side of the rivers and even in the centre of the town. We hope with the addition of the rock ramp here that it will be a part of that wildlife recolonisation story. It’s over to nature and the flow of the river now to do the final works to the rock ramp, depositing sediment and seeds to create a greener river scene in the centre of Livingston.