Foston Mill Eel Pass

Foston Beck is one of the country’s most northerly chalk fed rivers. It rises from springs near Kilham at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds. In 2005, the Environment Agency fisheries department gained consent to install an eel pass at Foston Mill; taking the form of a pipe containing net material to enable eels to climb the pass. Unfortunaley, the eel pass was never completed. The picture below shows the extent of the project as it was left in 2005, the old incomplete eel pass (pipe) can be seen descending on the right hand bank.

The River Hull headwaters are designated a SSSI and are deemed to be in unfavourable condition. As part of an investigation by the Environment Agency and Natural England, Royal Haskoning (consultants) were appointed to look at all structures on the headwaters with a view to either remove or modify them. The weir on this site incorporates a gauging station, which has been monitoring the flow since the early 1970s. The Environment Agency considers this structure to be important for the management of the water recourses in the chalk aquifer. As removal was not a consideration, the EYRT made a succesfull bid to Phase 3 RIF of the Rivers Trust River Improvement Fund to install a full eel pass along the artificial channel section to enter the stream below the mill pool waterfall. The success of the eel pass will be continously monitored, as part of this monitoring the eel pass has been fitted with camera equipment to record migrating eels.

The EYRT worked with Aquatic Control Engineering (ACE) to design and build an eel pass to fit into what proved to be a difficult location. One important change in Environment Agency policy was that a small proportion of the river flow could be pumped from above the gauging structure to provide the necessary attracting flow, which can be regulated to gain the full approval of the hydrometry section of the Environment Agency.

The beck flows over the gauging weir and continues for 40 metres over a very shallow brick conduit (see above) finally falling into the old mill pool. The stream below the weir is constricted to a bricked out channel for about 25 metres before it turns at right angles for a further 15 metres and finally enters the stream channel.

The Foston Beck entering the mill pool downstream of the gauging weir. The course of the stream then flows to the left of this view point.

Following meetings with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the pass suppliers, the route of the pass and positioning of ancillary equipment was agreed. Full plans, method statements and risk assessments followed and installation began.

The new eel pass uses a solar power PV system on the telemetry building, providing power for a submersible pump to create flow, monitoring equipment and a battery backup system. All controls are installed inside the Environment Agency's telemetry building on the site. Following a record dry spring and a very wet summer the river flows when installation began were high it was a welcome result when the ACE engineers managed to complete the ‘wet’ side of the installation successfully.

As each section of pipe was installed the media was inserted that would enable eels to climb the pass.

Installation above the gauging weir. View of the pass header box with the engineers fitting the cables and pipes to supply water to the pass.

View of the header box with the lockable lid in the open position. The infra-red camera is visible at the top left hand corner. Water flow is separated by the central ‘V’ section. This provides the attracting flow and also a washout flow.

View of the pass entering the mill pool. The pipe can be seen on the left of the river channel.

The success of the new eel pass will be monitored using camera equipment, its specifications are:

Night-view / Underwater LED camera. This unit is specially designed for underwater monitoring applications. Waterproof under 50M deep is guaranteed. Built-in high sensitive IR LEDs enable it to picture at total darkness. It features 500TVL High Res Sony CCD.

The cameras images are stored ready for downloading as part of an extensive monitoring programme of this project.