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On March 11th West Lothian College held its first Sustainability Summit to raise awareness and discuss some of the issues associated with combating climate change.  The summit focused on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals released by the United Nations in 2015 and offered eco-vendors, keynote speeches and informative activities ongoing throughout the day.

The RiverLife team were on hand to lead some of the group activities.  Incorporating Sustainable Development Goals 6 (clean water/sanitation), 11 (sustainable cities/communities) and 14 (life below water), Jack and Amelia offered group walks to students and staff between the college, the local burn and the River Almond.  The groups chatted over some of the issues facing our local rivers and burns, including pointing out indicators of pollution from community, industrial and agricultural sources.  The overriding message that our rivers and their tributaries currently face unprecedented levels of pressure from overpopulation, littering, sewage, drainage and agricultural runoff, amongst other pressures, really hit home as several pollution indicators were visible on the day.

17 participants helped to create a Freshwater Watch record on the main stem of the River Almond.  The focus was on identifying signs of clean water, what to look for, how to report pollution and how to get involved in the clean-up effort for our freshwater resources.  Six very helpful volunteers took samples and readings on Nitrate and Phosphate levels of the Almond near West Lothian College, followed by a demonstration and a reading of the river’s turbidity.  Testing the turbidity allows us to see how well light is penetrating the water, which can be blocked if there are high concentrations of particles (tiny suspended solids) in the water.  In short, testing turbidity gives us a very good indication at first glance of how clean a water source actually is.

Once the records were uploaded to the Freshwater Watch Citizen Science database, our groups returned to the College with a clearer understanding of human activity related impacts on our water sources.  A big thanks to West Lothian College for making the Sustainability Summit a success.