Tag Archives: Carshalton

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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The Problem with Urban Duck Ponds

In a highly developed landscape such as Greater London, urban ponds can provide an important haven for wildlife and therefore it is important to keep the waters happy and healthy.

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Unfortunately over time urban ponds tend to fill up with sediment washed from the surrounding area such as leaf litter and bird droppings. Have you ever been for a walk along the Wandle to Carshalton? If you have, you will have undoubtedly seen a mass gathering of wildfowl at the ponds. These high densities of geese and ducks can be a particular problem with their droppings increasing the organic content of the ponds, resulting in algae blooms and a deterioration in the water quality.

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So what can we do?

The Wandle Trust are trialling Siltex in Carshalton Ponds as a potential solution to the surplus of silt.

Siltex is a natural chalk-like substance which helps to increase the speed of silt breakdown by stimulating natural processes. It is environmentally friendly and is harmless to plants and animals.

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In the next week, we will be applying the Siltex powder to the mud in Carshalton Ponds. The effects of Siltex will then be monitored closely over the next few months by our staff to determine the effectiveness of the measure and its effects on water quality.

We will of course keep you updated with our news – so keep your eyes out for more Siltex blogs.