Newsletter, July 21st 2023

Monday Night’s at Northgate

After many years of service our club President, Peter Cook, has decided to step down from his role at Northgate Arena on Monday nights. Peter will continue with his other presidential commitments for Deva CC at the Riverside and behind the scenes representing the club at meetings and events.

Pool kayaking provides a clean, comfortable environment for beginners to learn basic strokes and rescue techniques, and for experienced paddlers to revisit and refine their skills.

Since 1976, (yes, that’s 47 years!), Peter has encouraged and coached countless Deva members in making progress and laying the foundation for getting out onto rivers and the sea. He has also encouraged many casual pool kayakers to join Deva Canoe Club.

Pool sessions will, of course, still be available on Mondays (and Tuesdays), but Peter’s presence will be greatly missed. I am sure we all agree that he deserves to put his feet up on Monday nights. Thank you, Peter!

River Dee Assembly; Clear Waters

As a British Canoeing “Champion Club” for Clear Access Clear waters we have a commitment to work for improving water quality. We are just one of many river users who wish to see reductions in pollution levels and in particular the discharge of untreated sewage by combined outflows. There are six CSO (combined sewage outflows) locations in Chester. For much of the time they will only discharge surface rainwater, but after prolonged or heavy rain when the system cannot cope with the volume, sewage and rainwater will be released.
On Friday 14th July I attended the River Dee assembly, a forum put together by Chester MP, Sam Dixon.
Welsh Water are setting up an alert system which will appear on their web site soon and give real time information about the duration and location when discharges occur, though not volume of the discharge. In the medium and long term Welsh water are aiming to improve the infrastructure and capacity of drains, but there is no commitment to eliminate them completely.
Our local council, Cheshire West and Chester, are supporting the application by Barry Johnstone of the Chester Frosties swimming group in applying for bathing water status for the Dee. There is now a Facebook page “Clean Dee” where you can keep up with developments (or lack of them).
Despite the fact this is the middle of the bathing season (May to Sept.) the government have moved the goalposts to make it much harder for a river to be designated as a bathing water. We now must prove that on 2 days there were over 100 people swimming. Other river users (e.g., kayakers) do not count, despite the fact this is an immersion sport. Campaigns, Emails, letters, and social media petitions are all ways we can influence water companies, decision makers and politicians. I know many Deva members already do this, but I would urge everyone to make their views known and help keep up the momentum to improve our river environments.
There are also actions we can take at an individual level. Blockages in the drains can make the situation worse. Only put the 3 P’s down toilets, (pee, poo and paper), not wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds etc. Welsh Water have reports of fat bergs, traffic cones, underwear, and mobile phones being removed which were reducing the capacity of Chester’s drains to cope!
We can also improve the ability of drains to cope by delaying run-off after rainfall events. Installing water butts on downpipes and using permeable surfaces (not concrete) where possible on new driveways and patios are two examples of individual actions. Within the whole catchment area various groups as well as CWaC are investigating creating and reinstating wetlands which also reduce peak flows. All these ideas will become increasingly important as the frequency of storm events due to become more pronounced.

Public Safety on the River Dee

As kayakers and canoeists we are very aware that waterways and rivers can be places of danger. Whenever the temperature rises, so do the number of casual swimmers and people unaware of factors such as cold water shock, panic, and entrapment on underwater objects.
The Dee assembly gave me the opportunity to talk to Vanessa Griffiths, responsible for river safety for CWaC, to discuss the possible installation of public throwlines along the river bank with basic instruction boards instead of the current infrequently placed life buoys which are difficult to use effectively and are often misused.
Our background in safety and rescue puts us in a useful position to help advise with aspects of keeping the wider community safe on or near the water.

Improved Access and Egress to the Weir

I have also started a conversation with Vanessa Griffiths the state of the egress steps by the Old Dee Bridge below the weir. She shares our concerns that these have become dilapidated and has agreed to assess the site and discuss ideas. Earl days, but hopefully we can work together to renovate or replace the steps and improve access and egress.

Welcome Team

At Deva Canoe Club we aim to be a safe and welcoming place for newcomers, including people who have no previous experience of paddlesports. We achieve this by having a dedicated team of individuals who make up our ‘welcome team’ at every club meeting.
As we are now in the middle of the summer season, a huge THANK YOU to all who help with administration, kitting out and coaching at the Riverside. Your commitment and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated and help us to achieve this aim.
If you are interested in becoming a team member and can contribute to the running of club meetings, please have a word with me or any member of the committee.

Training and Trips

Some of our members have recently completed training to start their journey into coaching and leading. Others have also taken or renewed Outdoor First Aid qualifications. Congratulations to all involved, and thanks to Ray McCann for organising them.
Thanks also to Colin Hayward for running a series of safety sessions at Colwyn Bay for sea kayakers. Introducing and improving techniques, using equipment, and building an awareness of safety at sea build confidence and abilities which enable participants to take on more challenging trips in the future.

John Lewis,
Chair, Deva CC