Author Archives: Bella

Wandle Pollution Volunteer Project Wins Rivers Trust Award

We are delighted that our Urban Pollution Monitoring project has won the Rivers Trust Award for Science and Innovation.

Bella receives the award from Ivor Lewelyn, Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust

Bella receives the award from Ivor Lewelyn, Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust

The project was created in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) so that trained Wandle Trust volunteers can respond to assess minor pollution incidents in place of EA staff and feed information back into the EA’s National Incident Recording System.

This enables reports of pollution (called in to the EA’s Incident line – 0800 80 70 60) to be attended more quickly and frees up the EA to spend more time on pollution prevention visits. The project has also been extended to include the regular monitoring of known polluting outfalls which has led to greater understanding of the extent of the pollution and a number of these outfalls have been addressed.

Many many thanks to all our wonderful and dedicated Pollution Assessment Volunteers, and also to the very supportive staff at the EA – in particular Kate and Richard. If you’d like to get involved with the project please contact

You are invited to the Launch of the Living Wandle project on World Rivers Day!

In June we reported the news that the River Wandle had won the lottery! This triumph was a £2 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme involving 25 projects to be delivered by a whole host of organisations on the Wandle.


The project is going to be ‘launched’ on World Rivers Day – Sunday 29th September 2013 – at Morden Hall Park. All the organisations involved will be there to tell you about the exciting projects that are coming up over the next 4 years.

The Wandle Trust will be leading on 4 projects – A river education programme for schools, a pollution awareness project called ‘River Guardians’, some physical river restoration work which will build on the enhancements already being delivered and a project called ‘Discover the Source of the Wandle’ through which we’ll investigate local features and landscape as well as archived records to look for signs of where the Wandle starts flowing.

Further details on the event, including the event booklet, can be found here.

So come and join us at Morden Hall Park on World Rivers Day and hear about these and other projects (including an invasive species programme, oral history and community theatre projects and the opening up of Merton Priory’s Chapter House). The Wandle Piscators will also be at Merton Abbey Mills that day with a range of activities so why not take a Sunday stroll along the Wandle between Morden Hall Park and Merton Abbey Mills and join thousands of others around the world appreciating their local river on World Rivers Day!

Introducing Toby…

Toby Hull

We are delighted to welcome Toby Hull as our newest Catchment Project Officer!

Toby has a background in delivering physical river improvement projects and is as at home in the river as he is on dry land. Which is just as well as we’ve thrown him in at the deep end – he’s already helped design new river restoration projects, install eel easements and remove part of a weir, not to mention providing invaluable assistance in the recent pollution incident.

So if you see Toby out on the river, do stop and say hi!

Pollution Incident: What Did You See?

On the evening of Tuesday 21st August 2012, a fire at Thames Water’s Beddington Sewage Treatment Works resulted in a loss of power and the consequent release of partially treated sewage into the Wandle. This caused ammonia levels in the river to rise and oxygen levels to fall resulting in a fish kill.  The sewage works is now fully functioning with only treated effluent being released and a cleanup operation is underway to remove any remaining dead fish.

A sample of the dead fish

Although what happened is broadly known, we’d like your help to piece together specific details.  This will help the Environment Agency, Thames Water and ourselves with investigations to assess the impact of the event and to plan for future pollution prevention and restoration work.  If you have any information, observations, photos, etc. please do post them through the comments section below.  We’re particularly interested to know what time the pollution began and when it reached different points along the river as well as when/where any dead fish were seen and whether they were floating or on the river bed.

If you see any new pollution, please report it straight away to the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60.

Pollution Alert! Following Fire at Beddington Sewage Works

We have just had reports that a fire at Beddington Sewage Treatment Works – involving 15 fire engines and 75 firefighters from across South London – this evening has knocked out their power systems.  As a result sewage cannot be properly treated and is flowing into storm tanks; once these are full the untreated sewage will be discharged to the Wandle (here).

Thames Water and the Environment Agency are on site ready to respond by helping to elevate oxygen levels in the river. This will help to minimise any harm to fish and other organisms.  At this stage we don’t know how severe any impacts from the anticipated pollution may be but we will add updates as we get them through the comments section below.

If anyone has any further information or experiences, please do add them through the comments box as well – all information helps us to build a better picture of what’s going on and ensure the best possible response.  Thank you and thanks to those out there ready to deal with anything that comes the Wandle’s way!

New Wandle books: Trout in Dirty Places and River Wandle Companion & Wandle Trail Guide

The last couple of months have seen the publication of two important new books related to the River Wandle. 

In early April, the Wandle Trust’s Chairman of Trustees, Theo Pike, launched Trout in Dirty Places: 50 rivers to fly-fish for trout and grayling in the UK’s town and city centres.

Described by one reviewer as “a landmark in fly-fishing history”, Trout in Dirty Places provides a fascinating snapshot of the state of urban rivers across the UK, with profiles of many community river restoration and Trout in the Town groups – of course including a chapter on the Wandle and the Wandle Trust!

Then, this week, the much-anticipated River Wandle Companion and Wandle Trail Guide was published by our good friends (and dedicated Wandle volunteers) Bob Steel and Derek Coleman.

This is the first new guidebook to the Wandle for 15 years, bringing the story of the river’s revival right up to date, and including huge amounts of painstaking new research and details about local history.

Both books have now been officially launched, but we hope to arrange further authors’ signings at Wandle cleanups in the near future. In the meantime, the books are also available via the following links:

Update: on Saturday 17 November, Derek Coleman will be giving a talk on the wildlife of the Wandle at the London Wetland Centre. Click here for full details.

Welcome to Elizabeth!

Elizabeth gets stuck in cleaning up the Wandle!

We are delighted that Elizabeth Taeed has joined us for four months through a Vodafone World of Difference Award to investigate how we can apply a new concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services on the Wandle.  She will look at the wide variety of ‘services’ that the Wandle provides, from being a place for people to fish, walk and cycle to cooling the air around the river; to providing water to just being a nice place to be!  Her work will then look at whether there are opportunities for people to pay to improve the service they enjoy.  She will also help us look into ways we can improve water saving measures in the Wandle Catchment.

Elizabeth will be writing a blog as part of her Vodafone Award (here), so do take a look to follow what she’s up to.

Introducing Claire

We are thrilled to announce that Claire Bedford has joined the Wandle Trust team to help deliver the Wandle Catchment Plan over the coming months. 

Claire is an ecologist and self-confessed Wandle fan!  Having previously worked with London Wildlife Trust to plan for the reintroduction of the water vole, she knows the Wandle well.

The Wandle Catchment Plan aims to understand what we need to do to improve the river so that wildlife can thrive and people can fully enjoy the environment.

Claire will undertake a series of workshops to capture people’s views as well as analysing data to make sure we’ve got the science right – keep an eye on our Calendar page for workshop dates over the next few months or email Claire directly.

Panorama asks: are we ‘drinking our rivers dry’?

This week’s Panorama investigated how our water consumption can impact on chalk streams such as the Wandle (you can watch it again on iPlayer).  Our friends on the River Kennet clearly demonstrated some of the issues which may soon face the Wandle if we don’t find more sustainable rates of water use.  Investigations into the impact of abstraction rates are currently being undertaken on both headwater arms of the Wandle.

Meeting the Minister for Environment, Richard Benyon, with Charlotte Hitchmough from Action for the River Kennet at the lauch of the WWF-UK Itchen Initiative which promotes smarter water mangement for people and nature © Benjamin Ealovega WWF-UK

By the end of this year the Government will produce their Water White Paper which will set out how they intend to tackle abstraction and other issues which threaten our rivers today. Check out Thames Water’s top ten tips for saving water to see some simple measures you can undertake to help.