Unusual side effect of the National Trust Snowdon Hydro

the penstock discharge point. see the green stuff! you wont see this algae in the main river course. this shows the impact the copper and iron is having on the main water course

The penstock discharge point. see the green stuff! you wont see this algae in the main river course. this shows the impact the copper and iron is having on the main water course by sterilising it 

Early on we had flippantly said that the hydro would help reduce heavy metal contamination of Afon Cwm Llan. The river is subject to seepage from the tens of copper mine workings in the area. Iron Oxide and Copper contamination. I visited the hydro last week and the turbine was off. What i noticed was a lot of algae growing on the rocks around the tail race from the turbine. What I think is happening is that the hydro is abstracting its water from the river before the copper mine workings and then depositing this water down in the valley and thus avoiding the seepage from these mine. The copper and iron is sterilising the main river and so you won’t see any micro flora and fauna around the rocks or edges. Therefore when you remove the base from the food pyramid (Copper and Iron is doing this) nothing else then comes in higher up the food chain. There is an exception though (there always is is in nature) In this extreme environment you get plants called extemeophiles who like life on the edge. Afon Cwm Llan has such a plant which is a lichen called Cryptothele rhodosticta. (see previous blog)  But in general this little experiment does show the impact the copper and iron is having on the main river (ps they have been digging here since Roman times and one of the mines is a schedules ancient monument and so it’s not quite a new thing!)

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