Tag Archives: Community

Help shape the future of your water supply and protect our rivers

Water companies across the UK are consulting on their Water Resource Management Plans, and as a customer, you have the opportunity to comment on these plans and influence how your money is spent.

What are Water Resource Management Plans?

Since the water and sewerage industry was privatised in 1989, a regulatory framework was put in place to ensure that consumers receive high standards of service at a fair price. As part of this framework, water companies are required to set out how they will balance water supply and water demand; these are the statutory Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs). These plans feed into the price review process, overseen by Ofwat, and therefore affect what you pay on your bill at home.

Why should I respond?

Water affects every aspect of our day-to-day lives, from having a drink to flushing the toilet. The water we use comes from the environment, taken from our rivers and the underground aquifers that feed our rivers. The more water we take, the less there is to support wildlife.

These plans highlight how the companies plan to meet the demand for more water in the next 25 years and therefore it is important your voice is heard to help protect our precious rivers and streams.

Did you know we are “Seriously Water Stressed”?

Despite its reputation, England is not as rainy as everyone thinks. For instance, London actually receives less rainfall each year than cities like Miami, Dallas and even Sydney. This means that the South East of England is classified by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed” and with projected population increases over the next 80 years, all water companies are looking to find more water to meet the increasing demand.

Did you know the south of England is home to globally rare habitats?

The south of England is lucky enough to be home to chalk streams, a globally rare habitat with only 200 remaining worldwide. They are home to many amazing plants and animals, forming the distinct communities uniquely associated with the clean, chalk-purified water.  They rely on there being sufficient water present in the chalk aquifers, and abstraction from these is a serious threat to their existence.

Did you know raw sewage is discharged into our rivers every day?

While these plans are about water resource and water supply to our homes, they are linked to the other function many water companies provide: wastewater. Thames Water and Southern Water provide wastewater services across the south east, taking used water (sewage) from our homes, cleaning it in the sewage treatment works and then returning it to the environment. As part of their sewer network, there are Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). These CSOs act as emergency discharge valves for when the sewer network is overloaded by rainfall, discharging untreated sewage into our rivers and streams to prevent it backing up in pipes and potentially our homes.  The more water we take from the environment, the less natural water there is in the river to dilute these discharges, making their impacts on the ecology of the river worse.

How do I respond?

To respond, you need to know which water company supplies your water.

The plans contain a fair amount of detail and so to help you digest this, over the next 2 months we will be posting a series of blogs on each of water company’s plans to help you understand how they will affect your local environment, and highlight what we think are the key points to raise to see the best improvement for our rivers and streams.

The series will start with Thames Water as their consultation closes on 29th April.

If you can’t wait for our blogs, click your water company’s name below and you will be taken to their consultation page.

Thames Water

SES Water

Southern Water

Affinity Water

South East Water

Thames Waterblitz

On the 23rd of April the Thames Waterblitz is taking place.

This is a great way of capturing a snapshot in time of water quality in the Thames and all its tributaries from source to sea. Run by Earthwatch, this will be the sixth Waterblitz and so far, they have collected nearly 1200 samples with the help of amazing volunteers.

The data they collect as part of the Waterblitz compliments the regular sampling already carried out by the Environment Agency and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. It allows extra information to be gathered from parts of the river that may normally be overlooked, helping to create a much better picture of what’s going on in one of the country’s most important rivers.

They would love as many people as possible to collect a water sample from their patch of the Thames basin on this one-day event. If you are interested in being involved, then follow this registration link to find out more and get involved. They will then send you all the details you need to take part.

Happy sampling!

 

Hogsmill Forum 2018

Another Year, Another Great Hogsmill Forum

Last week, volunteers across a range of projects on the Hogsmill joined us and ZSL at London Zoo for the 2018 Hogsmill Forum.

Credit: Sivi Sivanesan

The Forum is an opportunity for us and ZSL to say thank you to all the volunteers who help us with our projects on the Hogsmill – Pollution Patrol and the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.

It is also a chance to share wider plans for the river with the local community, discussing ideas and actions for the coming year.

If you are interested in either project, get in touch – volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org

While you are here, you might want to check out some of the presentations from the day:

The Hogsmill river, a globally rare chalk river, is regularly contaminated with sewage

On the afternoon of Wednesday 24th January 2018, this happened…

…. And it’s not an isolated event. This is sewage, temporarily held in a Thames Water storm water tank in Epsom, discharging into the Green Lanes Stream and the Hogsmill river.

What are Storm Tanks and why is this happening?

The Hogsmill (Epsom and Ewell) Storm Tanks are both located in the upper reaches of the Hogsmill river. The tanks function as temporary storage for untreated sewage as it travels through the network of pipes towards the Hogsmill Sewage Treatment Works (STW). During heavy rainfall, rainwater as well as sewage fills up the system: to prevent it backing up into homes, there are temporary storage systems like these storm tanks, and sometimes overflow pipes into rivers (known as combined sewer overflows), which help to relieve the pressure.  Usually the storm tanks contain the sewage until the rain has passed and the sewage can drain back into the network to be treated at the Hogsmill STW. However, occasionally, during higher rainfall, the storm tanks fill up completely and will discharge any excess sewage to the Hogsmill river itself.

This system was designed when the population of London was much lower and the area of paved urban surfaces (which cause rain to run off rather than infiltrating into the ground) was much less. It is a consented discharge – which means it is legal – as it was originally designed to happen only very occasionally as a kind of safety valve for the system (once or twice a year we think), but with population growth, urbanisation and climate change, it now happens more frequently. Our volunteers have monitored around 12 or 14 flow events per year in recent years.

Why is all this a problem for the Hogsmill?

The Hogsmill is classified as a chalkstream, a globally rare habitat with only 200 remaining worldwide. Chalkstreams give rise to a unique set of species that depend heavily on the clean, chalk-purified water and are consequently very sensitive to any decline in water quality.  The Hogsmill Storm Tanks are therefore a real threat to the chalkstream species community, even more so because they discharge sewage into the headwaters, affecting the entire river downstream.

When the system was designed and consented, it was done so on the assumption that the sewage would be diluted as the river would have high flows from all the rain. Unfortunately two things have happened which mean there is much less water in the Hogsmill than at that time. Firstly, many areas have been paved over with urban growth, meaning rainwater runs down drains rather than soaking into the ground and feeding the river. Secondly, the groundwater aquifer from which the Hogsmill flows, is the same source of water that comes out of our taps, and all the water we use has reduced the amount available for the river, and, ultimately, dilution of the storm tank effluent.

Finally, we know that the Hogsmill is important to local people and loved by many. None of us want to see it polluted, and we are particularly worried about this pollution because many people enjoy paddling in the river in warmer months.

What can we do about it?

The South East Rivers Trust and the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership are very concerned about all these impacts and have been working with Thames Water to find a solution.

 Our network was designed to discharge here when it becomes overloaded after heavy rain.  These discharges are legal in storm conditions, but of course deeply unpleasant and undesirable.  We understand the local concerns and are currently studying ways to manage flows better across this whole catchment.  We will share the report with the Catchment Partnership when the work is complete.  In the meantime, I can confirm that a clean-up operation started today, with the aim of removing as much litter as possible” – Richard Aylard, External Affairs and Sustainability Director, Thames Water 25th January 2018

What can you do to help?

While it may seem a problem which most of us can do little about, everyone can actually be part of the solution. The Catchment Partnership will continue to work with Thames Water to find a permanent solution to the problem. In the meantime, below are just some of the ways we all impact the sewer network and how we can help to alleviate the system.

Say no to paved gardens!

Every time a garden or driveway is paved over, we are exacerbating this problem. Tarmac, pavements, decking, and other similar surfaces, are usually impermeable to water, so rain simply washes off straight down the drain. With more and more people opting for paving, we are putting an increasing demand on the sewage network, making it more likely that the tanks will fill up and over top, discharging to the Hogsmill more and more frequently and with greater volume ending up in the river.

Bin it, don’t flush it!

Walking down the Hogsmill, you may see some unexpected items such as cotton buds, wet wipes and sanitary products. These have been flushed down toilets and have reached the Hogsmill through the Storm Tanks or misconnected pipes. Within the sewer system, they can also cause blockages and when combined with fats and oils from the kitchen sinks, create giant fatbergs, which can burst sewers, over top into nearby rivers or flood people’s homes.

The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are the three Ps – pee, poo and paper. Wet wipes are often claimed to be flushable, but these are actually are one of the biggest causes of blockages. So, unless it’s one of the three Ps, bin it, don’t flush it… or you may see it again in the Hogsmill!

The overflow pipe from Ewell Storm Tanks on the Hogsmill after a discharge incident.

Riding for Rivers, London to Brighton Cycle Ride

Last Sunday, Nick and I rode 54 miles in the name of rivers, completing the London to Brighton cycle ride. This blog is our way of saying thank you to all of those who supported and sponsored us along the way.

(If you’re worried you missed the opportunity to sponsor us, you still can, so never fear! The links are below)

http://www.doitforcharity.com/NickHale

http://www.doitforcharity.com/THull

So why on earth did we agree to cycle 54 miles?

Well, to be honest it was a mix of thinking “Ride4Rivers” was a catchy slogan, and being asked to do it when we under the influence in the pub. Before we knew it, our cycling jerseys had arrived in the post and we were beginning a countdown to Sunday 17th September.

What was Ride4Rivers?

The Ride4Rivers team was organised by the Rivers Trust, inviting local trusts and volunteers to raise money and awareness for their local river by joining the London to Brighton cycle ride. In the team were myself and Nick, other rivers trust staff and volunteers, and riders from Five Rivers and the Angling Trust among others. All the money raised by the Ride4Rivers team will go back to the Trusts and help further work to protect and enhance our river ecosystem. So how could we say no really?

The BIG Day

The Ride4Rivers team gathered early in the Sunday morning at Clapham Common with over 4000 other riders.

The team respectfully giving space and attention to the fuel for most to get started, coffee

Within a few miles we came to Hackbridge where the route offered a perfect photo opportunity overlooking the site where we removed four weirs and undertook significant restoration work back in 2014 on the Wandle – with Nick working for us as the contractor at the time!

The river was looking splendid, but there wasn’t time to stop for long, and shortly after we were passing the source of the Wandle at Carshalton Ponds.

A quick pit stop to admire the Hackbridge restoration work

The flat ground of London soon turned to numerous steep climbs as we ascended the North Downs. Fortunately however physics was on our side as what goes up must come down. Soon we had gravity helping us as we descended into the Weald. The atmosphere among all was great as we pushed on mile after mile. Our stomachs began to grumble but the organisers had this covered by laying on an absolute feast at Mile 29, the only thing being they made us work for it by locating the lunch at the top of a steep hill.

Feeling energised if somewhat seized up, progress after lunch began well but then… psssss, Nick got a puncture on his rear tyre. Now I mentioned that neither of us are cyclists, it would appear that since being children our memory of how to replace an inner tube was a little hazy. Sometime later (and with a little help it must be said) we were back on the road.

Sad face

A noise continued to be emitted from my bike that had developed since lunch.  Some 12 miles later as we approached the infamous Ditchling Beacon the noise finally got to me and I figured I should have a little investigate. It appeared that I had been riding with my brake partly on since lunch. Well I didn’t want to make it too easy! Again with our bike maintenance knowledge lacking after a little more unsuccessful fumbling the only thing for it was to disconnect the rear brake.

Ditchling Beacon soon loomed over us and the climb was on, one mile of uphill struggle lay ahead but we were not going to be defeated and soon we summited to spectacular panoramic views with the sun coming out on cue.  More unsuccessful fumbling to reinstate my brake, meant a bit of a hairy descent down to Brighton but who cared, from here it was all downhill to the finish line, the end was near and the prospect of a pint alluring.

Ditchling Beacon summited

We both need to say a massive thank you to all of you who so kindly donated to Ride4Rivers – your backing was so valuable to encourage us along, not to mention the benefit it will bring in helping us to enhance, restore and protect our rivers. Thank you so much! Nick and I also need to thank Steve Wright, Luke and Sam for lending us bikes so that we were able to take part – otherwise it would have been a long walk.

A well earned beer

If you wanted to sponsor, but missed out then our fundraising pages are remaining open for another couple of months so please do give what you can in support of our local rivers.

http://www.doitforcharity.com/NickHale

http://www.doitforcharity.com/THull

 

World Rivers Day

What is World Rivers Day?

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways and it takes place on the last Sunday in September each year. 

We rely on rivers for more than you may realise. Rivers around the world provide us with freshwater to drink, wash and to water our crops. They were (and still are) a source of power. We use them as a mode of transport both for industry and for our recreation. On top of these, they are the many more ecological services that rivers and their ecosystems provide us.

Given how much we rely on rivers, it’s clear that we cannot impact our local river systems without ultimately impacting our own health and well-being.  With many of our rivers facing an uncertain future, it is all the more important we celebrate them and raise awareness of the key issues they’re up against.  

How to celebrate?

Across our area, lots of partners are planning to celebrate World Rivers Day in many different ways. Have a scroll below and see what’s to offer in your local area.

Loddon Rivers Week – Monday 18th to Sunday 24th September

This years Loddon Rivers Week is timed to coincide with World Rivers Day on Septenber 24th – supported by Thames Water and the Rivers & Wetland Community Days fund.
During this week, and on the day itself the Loddon Catchment Partnership are inviting people who are curious about their rivers to come along to watch, help and learn about some of the activities that can help our rivers become healthier places with thriving wildlife.

River Mole Discovery Day

Join the Mole Partnership in Leatherhead on World Rivers Day (24th September, remember?) to celebrate the Mole and discover the secrets of the river.

Lots of activities for families too!

To download the event flyer, click here.

Wandle Fortnight

A two-week long celebration of the River Wandle – with over 60 events to choose from and plenty to pick on World Rivers Day itself.

The full programme can be found here. 

World Rivers Day on the Hogsmill

Join the Hogsmill Partnership on World Rivers Day to celebrate the wonderful Hogsmill river. There will be bird watching, pond dipping, crafts, wildlife talks and much more going on at the Hogsmill Nature Reserve in Berrylands.

Download the full leaflet here. 

Calling Wandle shoppers: Help us fund Wandle cleanups with your vote at Tesco

Do you live in Wandsworth? Or perhaps the Sutton area? Do you buy your food and other shopping from your local Tesco store?

If so, you could help us to raise up to £8,000 in funding for future Wandle cleanups!

Two of our recent applications to the Tesco Bags of Help fund – Spring Clean in Sutton, and Wandsworth for the Wandle – have been successful, and now you and other local residents can help decide how much funding these projects get, with £4,000 available at each store.

Throughout May and June, until voting closes on 30th June, you will be able to vote for your favourite project in one of the local Tesco stores on the map below. If Wandle cleanups get the most votes, we will be awarded £8,000 to continue funding them for 2017 and 2018!

wandle-cleanups-2016Our cleanups make a big difference to the river. In 2016 alone we removed 47 tonnes of rubbish, clearing 4.4 km of the Wandle. So we really need this additional financial support to purchase new equipment and run the events through 2017 and 2018.

What is the Tesco Bags of Help fund?

Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – all raised from the 5p plastic bag levy – being awarded to local community projects.

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags. Members of the public will be able to vote in store during May and June to decide which projects should receive the £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 awards.

How can you help?

You can help in two ways:

  1. Cast your own vote! The Tesco stores which are holding votes for Wandsworth and Sutton are shown on the map above. Please vote for our Wandle cleanups and help clean up the Wandle in your local area.
  1. Help us spread the word! Share this blog and let your friends and neighbours know that the vote is open until June 30th. Encourage them to shop in their local Tesco store in Wandsworth or Sutton, and cast their vote for Wandle cleanups in 2017 and 2018.

Thank you for your support in helping us to carry on running Wandle cleanups!

Cleanups

Keep up to date with the Hogsmill

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There is a new newsletter for anyone interested in or involved with the health of the Hogsmill. It summarises the results of River Monitoring Initiative (RMI) sampling together with other pollution monitoring and activities and events along the river.

Hogsmill Newsletter March 2017

If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter please contact:  Peter Short: rpetershort@hotmail.com

Volunteers Join Forces for the Hogsmill

The Hogsmill river doesn’t know how lucky it is!

Last week, 30 volunteers joined SERT and ZSL at London Zoo for the 2017 Hogsmill Forum.

2017_hogsmill_forum_ZSL

The Forum is an opportunity for us and ZSL to say thank you to all the volunteers who help us with our projects on the Hogsmill – Pollution Patrol and the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.

It is also a chance to share wider plans for the river with the local community,  discussing ideas and actions for the coming year; all of which feed in to the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership which SERT host.

If you are interested in either project, get in touch – volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org

And why not have a read of these presentations which our speakers delivered through the course of the day?

Presentations:

Many thanks to ZSL for hosting us, and for letting us have a look around the zoo after the meeting!

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Improvement Works on the River Dour

By Chris Gardner

In 2015 the South East Rivers Trust was awarded a £31k grant through the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF) to deliver fish passage and habitat improvements on the River Dour in Dover. All these improvements would be designed to increase the health and resilience of the river environment for fish and other species, to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive.

River Dour an Urban Chalkstream

The River Dour is a short (4 km) little chalkstream that rises in a rural setting but soon flows through the highly urban centre of Dover. This delightful little river boasts a healthy brown trout population, but the habitat is highly degraded due to urbanisation and impounded / fragmented due to a legacy of watermills.

A spotty brown trout

We assessed the urban part of the catchment by walkover survey, looking for potential projects. These were then prioritised on a cost-benefit basis, resulting in four sites where fish and eel passage could be addressed. Two were simple fish and eel passage easements and two were sites for eel passes.

The ruins of the old water mill at Minnis Lane.

Work began in October 2015 with a volunteer event at Minnis Lane near the aptly named village of River. An old watermill ruin at the site presented a complete barrier to fish and eel passage. The main part of the weir was very high and a fish pass here would have been way beyond the budget available. However, a parallel channel had one small step weir and an over wide shallow section of channel upstream that made this route impassable. To make this passable to fish and eels, we fitted a wooden box to the downstream end of the small step weir had a wooden box, to raise the water level up the step so fish could navigate it. We also used faggot bundles as flow deflectors to define a deeper channel through the over wide shallow section. Many thanks to Anita for helping to organise the volunteers and to the volunteers for their hard work! You know who you are!

Fixing in the faggot budles at Minnis Lane

In May 2016, we also fitted two eel passes to Halfords Weir and Lorne Road weirs. These are large weir structures that will require technical fish passes in the future to make them passable to fish, but eel passes were achievable with the budget we had available. The Halfords weir site was quite straightforward – the setup of the weir allowed a simple gravity-fed pass to be fitted. Eel passes allow eels to move over weirs through a piece of conduit which contains brush bristles that provide a crawling medium. Water passes through the pass to provide attraction flow and passes are located at the edge of the weir as studies have shown that eels predominantly use river margins as migration corridors.

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The Lorne Road site was more complicated, because this eel pass needed to go up and over the weir, so a gravity-fed option wasn’t appropriate. Instead, we designed this pass to be fed with a water pump to provide attraction flow. Many thanks to Malcolm and Mick at the Lorne Road Mill building who allowed us to tap into their power supply! Also many thanks to Paul and Simon for their work building the passes – your help was very much appreciated.

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We delivered the final aspect of the project later in spring 2016. Morrison’s weir (near Morrison’s supermarket) presented a barrier to juvenile life stages of trout and eel. To improve its pass-ability, the weir was notched in the middle to provide a streaming flow that fish can swim up, instead of a small drop and a thin plunging flow that fish can’t easily negotiate. Bristles were also fitted into the notch so eel could climb up.

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Wise words from Baton Path Mural

In the news: MPs demand overhaul of Environment Agency to protect communities from rising flood risk

floodpic1

Source: www.getreading.co.uk

Winter is on the way – and makes this report on future flood prevention from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (released today) very timely.  Today’s report, ‘Future flood prevention’, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/115/115.pdf  builds on previous works such as ‘Floods and Dredging – a reality check’  from CIWEM
http://ciwem.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Floods-and-Dredging-a-reality-check.pdf   and others, recognising that in many cases, traditional approaches to managing flood risk are not only unaffordable and unsustainable – they don’t always work and are neither, the only – nor, sometimes, the best solution.

The report highlights how a catchment wide approach is central to achieving an affordable and sustainable response to flooding in a more populated future, facing the consequences of climate change.

The Catchment based approach (CaBA) https://www.catchmentbasedapproach.org/   and Catchment Partnerships are well placed to drive this forward and deliver real solutions to communities not able to benefit from more traditional ‘hard engineered’ and expensive schemes. Existing Catchment Partnerships have developed strong links between local communities, local authorities, the Environment Agency, wildlife trusts and large institutions such as water companies and local industries, and are already delivering projects that enhance and protect our precious water resources and habitats; using a holistic approach to achieve multi-benefit solutions.

At the South East Rivers Trust, we are proud to host and co-host river catchments across the South East, and are increasingly involved in projects addressing local flood issues. In September, the Loddon Catchment Partnership  http://www.loddoncatchment.org.uk  supported a resident-led workshop, hosted by the Loddon Basin Flood Action Group and the University of Reading, on the potential for natural flood management projects to help residents who are at risk of flooding in Berkshire.

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Although there is a need for more evidence to inform best practice (but see Wilkinson ME, Quinn PF, Welton P. (2010) Runoff management during the September 2008 floods in the Belford catchment, Northumberland. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 3(4)), schemes such as those described in the report have shown the potential to achieve cumulative benefits from linked, practical projects that use techniques as diverse as increasing the area of land that can absorb water by planting woodland, to creating extra water storage areas by installing ‘leaky dams’ of natural materials that slow and divert water during high flow events.

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Reproduced from Future Flood Prevention (EFRA Committee report)

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/115/115.pdf

It all makes so much sense! – BUT there are challenges. The report highlights that the key to the success – or even existence of these projects lies in taking the whole community along, and providing realistic payments to landowners whose livelihoods are affected by these schemes. In discussions at our Cuckmere and Pevensey Catchment Partnership meeting http://www.cplcp.org.uk  farmers stressed the need for these payments to be an ongoing income stream, rather than one-off payments that do not reflect changes to their business model. This necessity is also highlighted in the report along with the criticism that government response to flooding has been reactive rather than pro-active, resulting from too short time scales for meaningful, strategic planning.

Improving communications across all areas of local planning is also essential. Highlighting the potential for new developments to embrace these methods can only help mitigate against the effects of yet more impermeable roofs, roads and pavements contributing to localised surface flooding.

floodpic6

Source: BBC Berkshire.

Outfall Safari on the Hogsmill

ZSL and the Hogsmill Partnership are looking for volunteers to help us map polluted outfalls on the Hogsmill this October.

While walking the Hogsmill you may have noticed all the different pipes that can be found along the river bank. These pipes are usually part of our surface water infrastructure, transporting clean water from our roads and roofs into the river. However in some cases, these pipes or outfalls can be polluting the Hogsmill as they have been misconnected.

Polluted Outfall

Misconnections are a BIG issue for urban rivers and the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership have been working hard to start addressing this on the Hogsmill River.

A misconnection is when a toilet or washing machine has been connected to the surface water drain heading straight to the river, instead of the sewer system. You can read more about misconnections at on the Connect Right website.

Connect Right

This October, ZSL are running an Outfall Safari to map all these pipes heading into the Hogsmill, and assessing their condition to check for misconnections.

Volunteers will receive training on how to recognise signs of pollution at these outfalls and record the pipes on a new smartphone app. This survey data will greatly improve our understanding of the river system and help to target sources of pollution.

Interested?

If you would like to join the team, you can sign up on EventBrite to register your interest. Once you’ve registered, more information will be sent to you about where and when the training sessions will take place.

Sign Me Up!

For more information contact by email: Joe.Pecorelli@ZSL.org, or phone: 07974 725 557
Outfall BannerPlease register your interest to help at: hogsmilloutfalls.eventbrite.co.uk

You’ll need to read this before your training session: 2016-Pre-training-information-for-Hogsmill-Outfall-Safari-Volunteers..pdf

New London Wildlife Trust Project: Water for Wildlife

image001 (1)London Wildlife Trust have asked us to help spread the word about their new Water for Wildlife Project.

Water for Wildlife is a new four year project focusing on freshwater habitats and their species across London. Surveys will focus on dragonflies, damselflies (the Odonata) and their larvae, because these species provide a useful indicator of habitat changes – quickly recolonising restored waterbodies and relocating in response to climate change. Data collected will be collated into the first ever atlas of Odonata for London.

100 volunteers will receive training in surveying and monitoring. The site visits will depend on the amount of time you wish to dedicate to the project – a fortnightly visit to your local site would be great!

The training programme comprises three elements:

1. Identifying dragonflies and damselflies with Natural History Museum etymology expert Steve Brooks in collaboration with the British Dragonfly Society.
Crane Park Island on 2nd August 10.30-3pm or Woodberry Wetlands on 9th August 10.30-3pm

2. Why and how we monitor and survey freshwater habitats, London’s Odonata species, improving habitats and freshwater policy, led by Trust specialists.
Crane Park Island on 5th August 10.30-3pm or Woodberry Wetlands on 11th August 10.30-3pm

3. Practical sessions on freshwater habitat mapping.
Dates and locations to be confirmed.

Booking is essential. Please email the Water for Wildlife team at London Wildlife Trust or call 020 7261 0447 and tell us why you would like to be part of the team and which sessions you would prefer.

So if you’re interested – get in touch with them!

Award Winning Restoration on the Wandle

Our rehabilitation work on the River Wandle’s Carshalton Arm has won the Urban Category of the 2016 UK River Prize.

By opening up fish passage, enhancing river habitat, addressing urban diffuse pollution and reintroducing brown trout, we have attained ‘Good Ecological Potential’ for the Carshalton Arm and re-established trout for the first time in over 80 years!

We attended the Awards Ceremony in Blackpool this week at the River Restoration Centre‘s Annual Conference to collect our award and showcase our project to the wider river community.

We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without all the people and organisations who helped us along way. To express our gratitude, we created this short film about the journey this project has taken us on.

Restoring the Hogsmill with Volunteers

A lot of our projects recently have been large scale – removing weirs, installing fish easement solutions and reprofiling large sections of river. But now it was time for the real professionals to step in…

Volunteers

For one week in March, Toby and I were in chest waders in the Hogsmill in Ewell. Over 5 days, we were joined by volunteers from the Lower Mole Project and other local volunteers from the Hogsmill Pollution Patrol and the Wandle – all trying river restoration first hand.

The River Hogsmill is a chalk stream in south London where we’ve been working to increase habitat connectivity over the last few years. Toby has been busy removing weirs where possible, or installing rock ramps to make them passable to fish.

In Ewell, Toby removed 3 small weirs to open up fish passage throughout this 1.6 km stretch. What was missing was fish habitat.

So what did we do?

The Hogsmill through the Open Space is artificially straightened and canalised with wooden toeboarding. There is little habitat variation in channel with slow moving water and a silty bed.

Straight Channel

On the first day, a team of volunteers got stuck in pulling out the large railway sleepers serving as toe boarding. Over the next four days, a total of 48 sleepers were removed – the first step in naturalising the bank for 1km through the park.

Sleepers

Meanwhile, carefully-selected trees were felled to increase light reaching the river. With this material, we started to create brash berms to narrow the channel and increase flow.

A holding log was placed at the downstream end of the berm and secured in place with posts and wires. Then brash from the surrounding areas was added to build up a berm.

Holding Log

This was all secured in place with chestnut posts and wire across the brash after some technical “squishing”…

Squishing

Over the next four days, the volunteers created a further 8 berms. You can see from the photos that the river began to respond instantly. Flows were increased where the channel was narrowed and scoured pools started to form.

On the last day we moved our attention further downstream to the site of a weir removal in 2014. Here a small weir and concrete abutment walls were reduced, but due to the close proximity of the path had to leave a semi-engineered bank.

To enhance this, pre-planted coir rolls were fixed along the bank to soften this edge and create a more natural marginal habitat.

Coir Rolls

To install these though was no simple task. They were secured in place with chestnut stakes and wire thread round the posts and through the mesh of the bank line. Believe me, that was a skill in itself…

Wiring Coir Rolls

Here are some photos of what we all achieved..

Finished!

Big thanks to everyone who came along!! We’d also like to thank Epsom & Ewell Borough Council and the Lower Mole Project.

The 2016 Hogsmill Forum

The Hogsmill River may have its problems, but it is one of the lucky urban rivers to have huge community support and many enthusiastic volunteers.

We run our Pollution Patrol on the Hogsmill, tracking down polluted outfalls and misconnections. While ZSL run the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative which uses the kick sampling of invertebrates to check for organic pollution.

So to thank everyone for their hard work, both projects combined for a joint Hogsmill Forum – kindly hosted by ZSL at London Zoo.

Hogs Forum

The event was a huge success with some really interesting discussions on the priorities for the Hogsmill going forward. Below you can download PDFs of the presentations.

Presentations:

 

Calling Hogsmill Volunteers!

Thursday 17th, Friday 18th & Saturday 19th March
10am – 4pm
Hogsmill Open Nature Reserve

This March, the South East Rivers Trust are delivering some restoration works on the Hogsmill through the Hogsmill Open Nature Reserve, and we are looking for volunteers to join us.

What will we be doing? 

We are going to be implementing some restoration through a 1 km stretch of the Hogsmill, such as installing Large Woody Material, bank softening and channel narrowing. These techniques will help increase flow diversity in the river, creating habitats for invertebrates, fish and other wildlife.

Make sure you sign up!
For each day, we are looking for a maximum of 15 volunteers to join us. So if you are interested in joining one or all days, please email Polly as soon as you can to book your place at volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org.

Once your place is confirmed, we will send round more details nearer the time on where to meet us, timings and what you need to bring.

IMG_1356

Delivery on the Dour

Last month, we ventured all the way to Dover to start delivery of our River Dour Restoration Project.

The Dour is a short river, roughly 4 km in length, which runs into the sea at Dover Harbour.

We were addressing fish passage at a weir near Kearsney Abbey at Minnis Lane. Here the Dour runs through a ruined building, causing blockages to fish passage with the presence of several small weirs. The river itself has started to create its own bypass channel and our aim was to enhance this channel to allow fish passage upstream of the site.

Minnis Lane Site

Installing Brash BundlesTo do this, we installed brash deflectors to concentrate the flow of water to a narrower section, ensuring there was enough flow for fish to swim up without becoming stranded.

We were joined by 6 local volunteers on the day to help us install 12 brash deflectors in the stream.

Each deflector was secured in place with hazel posts and wire to ensure they stayed in place in higher flows.

By placing the deflectors so that they’re pointing upstream, we directed the flow of water into the middle of the channel, creating a deeper section for fish and eels to swim up.

We will be back to finish the site off soon and see how our deflectors are working.

Many thanks to our volunteers who helped on the day: Bethany, Katharine, Lilian, Ray, Simon and Tom. And a big thank you to the local Scout Club for letting us park our van in their carpark.

So before….

Before 1Before..

Before 2

After!

After 1

After..

After 2

Happy Anniversary to the Hogsmill Pollution Patrol

Pollution on the HogsmillWith the start of 2016 comes the One Year Anniversary of our Hogsmill Pollution Patrol scheme – and what an amazing job it has done so far!

Throughout 2015, our trained volunteers have been monitoring 15 outfalls on the Hogsmill for signs of pollution such as misconnected appliances and sewage discharge.

Together they have submitted 470 reports of pollution to us. Working with the Environment Agency and Thames Water, we have been able to start investigating these issues and begin work towards rectifying them to improve water quality on the Hogsmill River.

To read the latest update of our work, please download our Newsletter below.

Pollution Newsletter December 2015

If you see pollution on your river, call the Environment Agency hotline on:

0800 80 70 60

Pollution

The Catchment Based Approach in action: Natural flood risk management in Stroud

When it comes to protecting communities from the worst impacts of natural disasters like the recent floods in Cumbria, York and Manchester, it’s easy to feel a little helpless in the face of global-scale influences like El Nino and the possible effects of climate change.

But as one of the warmest and wettest Decembers on record spills over into a grey and soggy January, and flood risk management continues to dominate the national conversation, here’s a fascinating case study that shows how local communities can use the Catchment Based Approach to make a real difference in their local area.

This video from Stroud District Council shows how residents are working with landowners further up the Frome catchment to slow the flow of heavy rainfall down these steep valleys, using natural materials to hold flood water back in the hills and preventing it from hitting vulnerable urban pinch-points all at once.

It’s a lot less expensive than many other heavy-engineering-and-dredging solutions to flood defence. And, as part of a community and catchment approach, it looks much more likely to succeed and be sustainable in the long term too…