Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wandle cleanup: August 2017: Merton

The one with Nick Hale…

Apologies for the slight delay with our August cleanup blog – but we went from the cleanup straight to some river restoration in Morden Hall Park – it’s been a busy couple of weeks! You’ll be able to read about that adventure soon, but on with the cleanup…

August saw us return to Waterside Way in Wimbledon. This site is still full of rubbish and will be a regular site for some time to come considering how little distance we manage to cover each time. We were joined this month by Nick Hale, another Wandle Trust Project Officer who came along to experience our famous cleanups. After the usual health and safety briefing, we got stuck in.

The waders got in the river just upstream of where we finished back in March. As they filled their first trug load, my team on the bank were getting bored, waiting for something to do. I suggested they enjoyed the peace while it lasted – this was Waterside Way, after all!

And like clockwork, trug after trug was filled and the bank team soon missed the easy start they had.

The first large find was a lorry/bus tyre, shortly followed by 5 other car tyres.

Next, a bicycle was found. Not in great condition, but as Nick still doesn’t have a bike for his London to Brighton cycle ride (raising money for the Wandle, you can sponsor him here), it might be the best he’s gonna get!

A few minutes later, I was given perhaps the creepiest gift from the Wandle yet – this doll.

After a quick lunch break, we moved further upstream, but only by 10 or so metres. Here we found the classic coconut.

Some toys, including a scooter and steering wheel

And some large carpets which were extremely heavy as we pulled them up the bank.

After 4 hours of hard work, we finally called it a day and packed up the van.

So what did we find?  1 licence plate, 1 Frozen scooter, 1 road barrier, 1 moped pannier, 1 dashboard, 1 lighting rig, 1 bike, 1 creepy doll, 1 cassette tape, 1 lorry tyre, 1 traffic cone, 1 disposable BBQ, 2 coconuts, 2 stereos, 2 large carpets, 3 toy cars, 5 car mats, 5 tyres, lots and lots of miscellaneous fabric and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me and Nick back at the garage, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

A a big thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Abdul, Andy, Beth, Carlos, Charles, Christine, Claire, David H, David S, Derek, Freya, Geoff, Gideon, Guy, Jane, Joanne, John N, Kathy, Keith, Lisa, Mark B, Melanie, Nick, Paul, Phil, Rob, Rose, Sheila, Steve B, Stewart, Sue, Thomas, Wally and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Waterside Way is going to take us a while to clear…

Wandle cleanup: July 2017: Sutton

The one with the rotting salmon…

Our July Wandle cleanup saw us heading to a site we hadn’t been to in four years and one month – Goat Road!

We set our tent up on Watermead Lane and waited patiently as 48 people gathered round ready for the start of the day. We were joined by around 20 young’uns from 5th Morden Cub Scouts, as well as Gary Hunt, chairman of the CATCH urban river group in Somerset, who also came along to share ideas.

So with everyone gathered, I gave my Health & Safety talk and we got started.

Our waders headed to tackle the river upstream of Goat Road. Although this section of river looked beautiful and the perfect chalkstream – it wasn’t long until rubbish was found.

A chimney was our first find, but that was soon overshadowed by the rest of the rubbish that was pulled out!

A go kart…

Computer chair and wooden pallets…

Carpet…

And a mannequin’s arm!

Soon the rubbish pile was huge.

In the undergrowth around the river, and in the smaller channel around the mills, there was a lot of litter too. Luckily we had the scouts on hand to help us!

Just before lunch, 10 boxes of rotting salmon were discovered in the side channel and removed by some brave volunteers – the smell lasted all day.

We stopped for lunch to have a rest – as it was hard work in the sun. But as always, knowing there was more rubbish to be found, the waders were soon heading up to Buckhurst Avenue for the next session.

While we waited on the bridge for the waders to emerge from behind the factories on the Buckhurst Avenue stretch, we used the grappling hook to fish out a bicycle we could see in the water. It took a few attempts but we got it in the end.

Three trolleys were soon pulled out once the waders arrived.

And a burned-out moped was found abandoned in the undergrowth.

After a long day we packed up the van and headed home.

So what did we find?  1 chimney, 1 go kart, 1 armchair, 1 sofa, 1 computer chair, 1 lawnmower back, 1 moped, 1 manikin arm, 2 golf clubs, 2 rubber ducks, 2 coconuts, 3 traffic cones, 4 trolleys, 4 wooden pallets, 4 bicycles, 10 boxes of rotting salmon, 12 tyres and bags and bags and bags of other rubbish!

Huge thanks to local volunteer Jackie for kindly funding this event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent  and for helping me back at the garage, Sally for baking some treats, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Ahamefull, Alex, Andy B, Ben, Beth, Bruce, Charles, Chris E, Chris F, CJ, Dave J, David H, Declan, Derek, Edgar, Frank, Freddie, Gary, Geoff, Gillian, Guy, Helen, Irene, Jackie, James B, James E, Jane, Joe, John L, John N, Joshua, Kathy, Kim, Marcus, Martina, Massimo, Mathew, Max, Melanie, Nick, Paul, Per, Phil, Rachel, Rose, Sally, Sheila, Shivani, Steve, Susan, Theo, Wally, Will and Zach.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? There really are salmon in the Wandle, they’re just in catering boxes…

Introducing the new Wandle Invasive Species Action Plan

Our Wandle Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Project has reached an exciting stage – the launch of the new Wandle INNS Action Plan.

The Wandle INNS Project is part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, and has been running since April 2015 with our INNS Officer, Alan Martin, at the steering wheel.

Over the last two years, Alan has spent a lot of time out on the Wandle getting up close and personal with INNS such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Floating Pennywort and Giant Hogweed. These BIG FOUR have been the primary focus of the INNS Project as they are well-established on the Wandle and pose risks to wildlife and the local community.

From his time in the field, Alan has concluded the most effective control/management methods for these plants, and has written an updated INNS Action Plan for the Wandle. This plan is available to all, showcasing recommended control methods for INNS on the Wandle, INNS ID guidance, INNS biology and lots of other useful stuff.

The plan also includes a new online map of INNS records for the Wandle, collected by our trained River Rangers.

Our River Rangers have been trained to identify invasive plants and monitor the Wandle roughly 4 times a year. If you are interested in joining this team, the more the merrier, just email Polly on volunteers@wandletrust.org.

The data our River Rangers collect for us has been included in the INNS Action Plan to help us map out how INNS on the Wandle can be managed over the next 8 years.

The Key:

The plan was presented to major landowners and stakeholders (including the local councils, National Trust and London Wildlife Trust) at an INNS Must Out Workshop in February this year. Here everyone signed up to help deliver the plan. A very positive outcome for INNS on the Wandle.

Here at the Wandle Trust, we have signed up to help kick start the action on the ground, working with our volunteer River Rangers and newly appointed Hit Squad. The next few blogs will show you all we have been up to and the difference the project is making to the Wandle.

Wandle Cleanup: June 2017: Wandsworth

The one with my favorite find…

For our Wandle cleanup this month, we answered local pleas to revisit Trewint Street in Earlsfield and clear some recent fly-tipping that had shocked the local neighbours.

On a sunny Sunday, 59 volunteers joined us at Trewint Street, including 1st Homefield Cub Scouts and the rugby players from Bec Old Boys Club; all ready to get stuck in.

Within what felt like two seconds of finishing the Health & Safety briefing, there was already a washing machine being pulled up the concrete bank. It took some considerable muscle and cooperation, but it was safely pulled up and used to start our rubbish pile.

After the washing machine, rubbish came flooding in, faster than I could keep track of.

We found several children’s bikes..

…an airplane which is perhaps my favourite find since starting to run cleanups in 2014!

A motorbike (with another 2 to follow!)

Before it was even lunchtime, the rubbish pile was piled high!

But before I could get everyone out of the river, our waders found themselves a challenge to deal with – a piece of railway (or maybe half a castle door?)

This wooden structure weighed a considerable amount and walking it upstream under the bridge was a challenge enough, let alone pulling in up the concrete bank. But with sheer dedication and muscle, we prevailed.

A couple more finds before lunch included a Santander bike by the Homefield Cubs!

and half of another washing machine.

By lunchtime, we were all exhausted and ready for some cake. However, not all of us could resist trying out some of the toys we had found…

Having achieved so much in the morning, we decided the afternoon would be shorter. One small team followed the Homefield cubs down the Wandle Trail to a motorbike they had discovered earlier in the morning.

Meanwhile, the wading team did one final check of the area around the bridge and found me a dinosaur which is now pride of place in the bathroom:

Before everyone collapsed with exhaustion, we called it a day. If you looked at the pile though, you would have assumed we had been working for more than just 3 hours!

So what did we find?  1 rubber dingy and oars, 1 airplane with wheels, 1 radiator, 1 Santander bike, 1 fan, 1 Thomas the tank engine, 1 dinosaur (now rehomed in Polly’s dinosaur-themed flat), 1 railway structure, 1 washing basket, 1 bunny, 1 wheel clamp, 1.5 washing machines, 2 blankets, 2 mattresses, 2 traffic cones, 2 tyres, 3 motorbikes, 4 children scooters, 5 children’s bikes, 6 buckets, planks and planks of wood (fencing, furniture and more) and bags and bags and bags and bags of rubbish! We also pulled a fair amount of Himalayan balsam – as if we hadn’t worked hard enough!

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me back at the garage, and the Waste Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Abigail, Adrien, Alan, Andrea, Andrew D, Andrew R, Andy, Brody, Carter, Charles, Charlotte, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Ed B, Ed H, Ed S, Geoff, Guy, Harry, Howard, Ivan, Jason, Joanna, Lisa, Liz, Luca, Lucile, Luke, Lynda, Martina, Maxwell, Michael, Miles, Nick, Nicola, Oliver, Per, Pete, Phil, Richard, Rory, Rose, Sally, Sam, Sarah, Sheila, Stephanie, Steve B, Steve M, Theo, Wally, Will and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Chinese mitten crabs are living in the Wandle at Trewint Street!

 

Warning: highly invasive aquatic plant, New Zealand pigmyweed, found on the Wandle

There has never been a more important time for every user on the River Wandle to Check, Clean, Dry – we have discovered New Zealand pigmyweed on the Wandle!

New Zealand pigmyweed, Crassula helmsii, is a highly invasive aquatic plant introduced to the UK in the 1900s as an ornamental “oxygenating plant” for ponds. It is thought to have escaped to the wild naturally (transported by wildfowl moving between ponds) or as ponds/aquaria were emptied out into nearby rivers.

Where would we find it?

New Zeland pigmyweed grows in still water, such as ponds or lakes, and also in slow moving waters like canals. It can even form dense colonies on damp mud and could therefore colonise marginal and impounded areas of the Wandle, and many of the backwater habitats.

Where is it in on the Wandle?

Currently, the only known New Zealand pigmyweed colony is in a small pond in Hackbridge / Beddington where it was discovered during our recent Wandle cleanup, highlighted on the map below.

Why is it bad?

New Zealand pigmyweed forms dense mats on the surface of the water, and up to 3 m under the water. These mats can shade out other plants below, resulting in a decline in oxygen in the water which has negative effects on invertebrates, frogs, newts and fish.

Much like floating pennywort, New Zealand pigmyweed can hinder recreational activities such as angling, by creating impenetrable “carpets” across open water bodies.

Finally, the control and eradication of this plant is very difficult. We are unlucky to have it, but lucky that we have discovered it with only one colony! In many other catchments where it has become established, water seems to have disappeared from the landscape.

Manchester Airport Pond, Photo Credit: Paul Breslin

What can I do to help stop the spread?

Avoid the pond! The pond where we have discovered the plant is not currently used for recreational purposes and ideally this would remain the case. For example, if you walk dogs in the area, please make sure they don’t go for a dip in this pond, as they could easily then transport it to wherever they next go for a swim. The plant can grow from tiny fragments that you might not even spot, so it is better to be safe than sorry!

Be vigilant! We believe (and hope!) this is the only case of New Zealand pigmyweed on the Wandle. However if you are out and about and believe you see the plant, please get in touch with us so we can come and investigate. You can call Polly on 07833 497 599 or email her at polly.bryant@wandletrust.org

Check, Clean, Dry! Finally if you are an angler on the river, or a use the river in another way such as canoeing, please make sure you are following biosecurity procedures such as Check, Clean, Dry. This will not only help reduce the risk of spread of New Zealand pigmyweed, but also the spread of other INNS and potential new INNS to the Wandle from other rivers.

Wandle cleanup: May 2017: Beddington Park

The one with a Limerick…

Did you know last week was National Limerick Day? Well, if you didn’t, to get this blog started here is a Wandle limerick just for you:

But on with the cleanup…

As May is the start of Himalayan balsam season, our cleanup for the month focused on Beddington Park, with our usual volunteers joining forces with our Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) teams: the River Rangers and the Hit Squad.

On the Wandle, Himalayan balsam is widespread and is not great news for the river. As part of our Wandle Invasive Species Project, we have been working with our River Rangers and Hit Squad to map the distribution of the plant on the river, and plan out action to work towards its eventual eradication.

Beddington Park, and Richmond Green just upstream, are considered the “source” of Himalayan Balsam for the Wandle, sending seeds downstream to colonise new sites, and are therefore priority areas to target.

On a sunny Sunday morning we were joined by 58 volunteers, including a local scouts group and our INNS Officer, Alan, with his trusty sidekick, Pepper the dog. After our Health & Safety briefing, we divided into two teams to get started: the cleanup crew and the balsam bashers.

Alan led the balsam bashers. Having worked on the site last year, Alan knew where the balsam would be and took a team of volunteers to remove every single plant.

Meanwhile, the cleanup crew got started on the river. The waders headed upstream from Church Lane towards Richmond Green and it wasn’t long until two trolleys were found.

And then not much longer until another two were discovered!

While working up the river, the cleanup crew kept an eye out for any Himalayan balsam growing on the banks of the Wandle, removing each plant as it was discovered.

In no time, we had made it to the weir and started emptying the trugs of rubbish into wheelbarrows.

Andy and Dave then led an “expert” team over the weir all the way to Beddington Lane to clean and check for balsam on a stretch we are usually unable to access.

We still had 40 minutes until lunch, so the rest of us headed back to the tent, got back in the Wandle and headed the other way to clean the river inside the park. It was close to spotless with only the odd can or bottle!

By lunchtime, the balsam team had finished, and the cleanup crew were in need of a drink. We all gathered back at the tent to have lunch and enjoy the sunshine.

After a longer lunch than usual, Alan took the Hit Squad (our team of volunteers trained in the management of Invasive Non-Native Species) to the small pond on London Road, just outside Beddington Park. Here there was some floating pennywort to remove as part of the Wandle-wide battle against the very invasive aquatic species. A rather terrifying discovery however, was the presence of New Zealand pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) in the pond as well – photographs and samples were taken to confirm but this aquatic plant could cause real problems for the Wandle.

Photo Credit: GBNNSS

The rest of the waders got back in the Wandle and finished off the last 100 m in the park, finding an extra 3 or 4 bags of rubbish.

It was then time to check the skip was packed, and the van, and then all head home for a nice cold beverage.

So what did we find?  1 washing line complete with pegs, 1 car wheel clamp, 1 tow bar, 1 buoy ring, 1 bag of lemons, 1 coffee table, 1 football, 1 tennis ball, 1 cricket ball, 2 traffic cones, 3 coconuts, 4 trolleys and 15 other bags of rubbish, plus around 200 balsam plants.

Huge thanks to local volunteer Jackie for kindly funding this event, Sutton Council for purchasing some much needed litter pickers for us, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Rosie and Alan for helping me back at the garage, Ann for baking some treats, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Aenes, Alex, Andrea, Andy, Andy B, Ann, Cain, Caroline, Charles, Charlie, Chris, Claire, Clare, Dave, David H, David S, Derek, Drew, Ed, Gavin, Geoff, George, Gillian, Guy, Jackie, Jane, Jenny, Jessica, Jim, John L, John N, John S, Joshua, Justyna, Katrina, Ken, Kilian, Kim, Matilda, Michael, Nick, Nicola, Olivia, Per, Phil, Rolanas, Rosie, Sheila, Sophie C, Sophie N, Steve, Talus, Victor, Wally and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? The difference between coconut water and coconut milk!

 

 

 

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

Wandle cleanup: April 2017: Sutton

The BIG one

The organisation of our April cleanup was big as we had grand ambitions. We aimed to clean the river from Grove Park, all the way to the top of Culvers Island, covering over 2000 m of the Wandle.

To achieve this we needed a large number of volunteers. Luckily, we were gifted with sunny weather, and with a local 50th birthday joining us, we were not disappointed as 50 people met us at Hackbridge Road Bridge.

To tackle the 2000 m we divided into two teams, one led by Andy, and the other by Theo. After the Health & Safety briefing, and division of equipment, the two teams set off.

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Andy’s team headed down the Wandle to the northern end of Culvers Island and started working up the right hand branch of the river. To start with, rubbish was slow to find and our people wading made quick progress. The token coconut was retrieved from the river, along with 3 bike frames with the wheels missing.

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In no time, the team were at the halfway point at Culvers Avenue. Here, a large pile of fly tipped rubbish was spotted on the other side of the river. Given we had the luxury of numbers, and we didn’t want the rubbish to end up in the Wandle, we got started moving the pile to our agreed collection site.

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Local neighbours were so happy to see the fly tipped rubbish removed, they came out and gave us ice cold drinks and bottles of water as a thank you – given the heat of the day this was much appreciated!

With the tip removed, we got back in the river and headed towards the lunch site at Hackbridge Bridge.

Meanwhile, Theo’s team had been working hard on the Carshalton arm of the river. Helped by Derek and other volunteers from London Wildlife Trust’s Wilderness Island nature reserve, we worked steadily upstream, clearing litter from the dragons’ teeth and other habitat features which we’d previously installed in this stretch.

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By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink so we reunited at the event tent where Rosie had water, squash and cake ready for us. As it was Clare’s 50th, we were also treated to extra food including strawberries, grapes and Easter cakes baked by the students from Richmond University.

After re-fuelling, the teams headed out again to finish what they had started.

Andy’s team headed back to the north of Culvers Island to tackle the left hand side of the river while Theo’s team got back in at Butter Hill to continue up to Grove Park.

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It was a huge effort from all and we hope we left the Wandle in Sutton a little clearer and rubbish free.

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The next Wandle Cleanup will be on Sunday 14th May in Beddington Park where we will also be tackling Himayalan balsam!

So what did we find?  1 golf ball, 1 bike wheel, 1 sun hat, 1 flat pack wardrobe, 1 flat pack chest of drawers, 1 large section of roofing felt, 1 window, 1 hoover, 1 scooter, 1 traffic cone, 1 mobile phone, 1 bouncing ball, 1 concrete bathroom wall (we think), 1 umbrella, 3 bikes with wheels intact, 2.5 coconuts, 3 bike frames without wheels, 4 guttering pieces, half of a plastic Christmas tree, bags and bags of rubble from the fly tip and bags and bags of cans, bottles and other rubbish.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and helping me back at the garage, the students from Richmond University for baking some treats, and the Waste Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Andy, Ann, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Derek C, Derek P, Doris, Ed, Guy, Jackie, John N, John S, Mike, Phil, Sally, Steve, Stewart, Theo, Trevor, Victor and Wally. The sign in sheet from this event has gone missing in the garage so if you joined us and don’t see your name above, please let us know so we can add you!  You can comment here or email cleanups@wandletrust.org.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That people really do appreciate what we do – and thank us with ice cold drinks!

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Low Water Levels in Carshalton Ponds

Did you know that in times of dry weather, when groundwater levels drop, the top of the Wandle in Carshalton is kept flowing artificially?

We all need water to drink and wash, and in Carshalton, at the top of the Wandle, the water in our homes is provided by SES Water (who have recently changed their name from Sutton and East Surrey Water Company).

The water that comes out of our taps is the same water that springs out of the chalky geology of the North Downs as the source of the River Wandle. SES Water has a licence to abstract some of this water from the chalk aquifer and supply it to us for domestic use. But as part of this licence, they also have to ensure there is enough water in the River Wandle (because there are lots of species of insects, birds and fish in the river which need flowing water).

To do this when the aquifer is low and the springs are not flowing (usually in late summer), SES turns on an artificial recirculation system which pumps water from the Wandle just north of Goat Bridge up to Carshalton Ponds, where it replenishes the Carshalton arm of the river. Without this system, the Carshalton arm of the Wandle would be dry for much of the year.

As you may have noticed, Carshalton Ponds have been getting drier recently. We think this is because there are some cracks in the edges and bottom of the Ponds, which mean that when SES Water pump water into the Ponds, it seeps back into the ground before it can get out of the lower Pond and flow down the Wandle. This is causing SES Water to fail their licence requirements to keep the Wandle flowing, so at present they need to pump most of the water straight into the river below the cascade in Grove Park, with a small flow to the Ponds to top them up.

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SES Water, the Environment Agency (EA) and Sutton Council are now working together to plan and deliver restorative works to the ponds and rectify the issue as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we can all do our bit by trying to save water.  Look out for our exhibition coming up in Sutton Library (July 2017) where you can learn more about the past and present sources of the river, and simple actions we can all take to save water and help the Wandle.

Update: The Council were able to make repairs to the ponds and Sutton and East Surrey Water started pumping water back into the ponds on Sunday 9th April.

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Wandle cleanup: March 2017: Merton

The one where we barely moved 15 metres!

For March we headed to Waterside Way – a site we started to tackle last year and only managed to move 10 m before we had filled a rubbish lorry! This time was no different…

One by one, everyone arrived on site and then after the Health & Safety briefing we got started. We headed downstream to where we finished the last time we tackled this site. As soon as we arrived we saw the opposite bank was covered in rubbish and we just couldn’t leave it that way. Waders got in, waded across the Wandle and then climbed up the bank to tackle the fly-tipping.

Fly tipping on the Wandle Bank

It didn’t take long before the bank support team was overwhelmed with rubbish and we had to gather extra recruits from the litter picking team.

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One of the first big finds was a roller. Although very heavy, it was designed to roll and so getting it up the bank couldn’t be too difficult, right? Turns out, yes it could!

Roller

Next, a mattress was found in the Wandle which proved trouble for the waders and bank support alike. Having absorbed so much water and silt, the mattress was extremely heavy and getting it up the bank revetment and then up the steep bank was near impossible.

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Derek used his magical powers to sense rubbish hidden below the silt. With everyone on the rope, the mystery object was pulled free and the trolley was heaved by the bank. Shame the wheels didn’t work to get it back to the rubbish pile!

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At lunchtime we headed back to the tent for some cake and drink, as well as shelter from the rain. We had some lovely homemade cakes which went down a treat. With the rain not stopping, we decided to get back to the river and finish what we’d started.

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After lunch, Derek found yet another trolley deep under the silt. With several people on the rope, we managed to pull this one free and get it up the steep bank as well.

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Another challenging find was this metal water tank/safe – full of silt and very difficult to attach the ropes to!

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At the end of the day everyone was wet, the rubbish pile was sky high and so we called it a day for another Wandle cleanup.

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So what did we find?  1 mattress, 1 roller, 1 jump lead, 1 safe, 1 coconut, 1 skateboard, 1 back of a TV, 1 computer monitor, 1 flatbed trolley, 1 tape player, 1 traffic cone, 2 trolleys, 3 bike tyres, 4 car tyres, 7 carpets, 10 car mats, lots of piping and wood, many, many plant pots and much more rubbish.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann for supervising the Event Tent and for baking some treats, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

We’d also like to say a big thank you to Richard from The Burly Photographer, who came and took some great photos of our event!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Abbas, Andy, Ann, Anna G, Anna H, Bhadresh, Charles, Chris, Claire O, Claire W, Dave, David, Derek, Doris, Ed, Felix, Grayatri, Guy, Jane, Jason, Jiya, John, Lisa, Lucinda, Maciek, Merel, Mike, Natasha, Per, Phil, Richard, Rob, Sheila, Sonny, Steph, Stewart, Trevor, Uri, Varshan, Ved, Victor, Vishali, Wally, Will H and Will W.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That if you forget your coat and it rains, a bin bag makes an excellent waterproof.

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