Author Archives: Polly

Wandle cleanup: October 2018: Merton

For our October cleanup we headed to North Road in Merton. This was Jo’s first river cleanup and an eventful one at that, so thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and helpful!

As usual we started off the day with the Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. After a very rainy Saturday night we decided it was sensible for only a few of our more experienced waders to clear the river, so everyone else set off litter picking around the banks, park and roads.

Despite the poor weather we had a great turnout with about 42 volunteers – so thank you for braving it in the wind and rain!

We removed as much litter as possible from the river where it was safe to do so, and lots of litter from the surrounding areas. We found several interesting things, including a pram, half a motorbike, a mattress, a sofa and a chest of drawers.

We stopped for lunch around 12.30 and took shelter from the rain under the gazebo. Big thanks to Wally for bringing along the delicious pumpkin pie and to the mysterious individual who baked the chocolate brownies!

We couldn’t continue wading after lunch as the river had become too deep and fast-flowing thanks to the continuous rain. Instead, we litter picked around the park and the surrounding area. Initially we thought the area was fairly clean but as we looked further and deeper, it turned out there was lots of litter picking that needed to be done.

Here is the final rubbish pile!

So what did we find? 4 tyres, a mattress, sofa, half a motorbike, a trolley, a chest of drawers, a rocking chair, a pushchair, a toy kitchen, a bouncy ball, a fence, a bench, a food waste bin, a basket, a cone, a chair, lots of bottles, rugs and plastic.  

On a more serious note… While community groups like ourselves can make a massive difference, the government and large companies, like supermarkets, are largely responsible for tackling the issues with plastic waste. We can and should all use our voices to pressure our local council and supermarket to phase out the selling of single-use plastic.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie and Wally for supervising the Event Tent, and Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Eleanor, John, Lia, Farrah, Maddi, Eric, Elliott, Wally, Rosie, Chris E, Swzen, William, Martin, Tom, Andy, Wayne, Billy, Chris H, Cuba, Kaori, Elizabeth, Duma, Per, Guy, Jamie, Nick, Jonny, James, Mark, Michika, Luke, Raphael, Dave, Lynda, Paul, J, Nicholas, Rob, Derek, Aaron, Charles and Sue!

See you next month!

Lucy and Jo

Goat Bridge Weir and Level Testing

There is a water level test taking place on the Wandle at Goat Road and we wanted you to be aware.

Plans for the Millfields Redrow development include alterations to Goat Bridge Weir which will improve the habitat and fish passage on the Wandle.

Over the next month, the Environment Agency will be investigating the impact that current river levels have on Spencer Road Wetlands. This will help inform the future plans for Goat Bridge Weir.

The weir will be lowered from today (8th October) and it will be raised again on the 22nd October 2018. During this time, you will see gradual changes to the water levels in this stretch.

Please read the full statement from the Environment Agency here:

EA Goat Bridge Weir Statement

Wandle cleanup: September 2018: Merton

For September we headed to Waterside Way in Merton. 

This cleanup is part of Wandle Fortnight – a two-week celebration of all things Wandle. Find out what other events are on offer here. 

 

Sadly, this month we said goodbye to Hannah who is off to Canada in a few weeks’ time. So a BIG thank you to Hannah for running the events these past few months, and all the best for Canada. On happier news, we also welcomed Jo, our new Cleanup Contractor who will have her first official cleanup next month!

As we had visited this site about 6 months ago, we were hoping to find less rubbish. However, as we drove up the road towards the site we could see that the litter pickers would definitely have their hands full, and as soon as we got in the river, we realised the waders would too!

Before we got started, we kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. Once work began, it was not long until large items were being pulled out and the list kept growing…

…we found 4 tyres – a whole set!

A metal fence, which took four strong volunteers to carry it back down the path to the rubbish pile. It must have taken some real effort to get this into the river.

A toilet seat / photo frame

A beer keg – which unfortunately was not full of beer

We also came across some of the local wildlife – eels! Here is one of the bigger ones that we saw. But we quickly released him gently back into the Wandle.

We found a lot of heavy items, so thank you to all the volunteers for your hard work and continued enthusiasm throughout. I bet your muscles ached on Monday!

So what did we find?
A camera, broomstick, lots of carpets, 3 bicycles, a sleeping bag, wallet, 4 tyres, a duvet, 2 bicycle tyres, a washing machine motor, lots of gutters, a golf ball, a fishing rod, a metal fence, a toilet seat, a children’s bicycle, lawnmower, scooter, coconut, epi-pen, ID, oyster card, shopping trolley, baby walker, chairs, sink, table, silt trap/drain bucket, strimmer, 2 saucepans and an umbrella.

All of this was just some of the more unusual items we collected amongst many cans, plastic bottles, wet wipes, food wrappers and other items of litter in the river.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Derek, Lucy, David, Aaron, Nick, Phil, David, Emily, Andy, Paul, Wayne, Thea, Madeleine, Sheila, Rosie, Frank, Phil, Rhianna, Nicholas, Charles, Caitlin, Paddy, Kaori, Grace, Anna, Brigid, Kaiden, Steve, Martin, Janet, Will, Simon, William, John, Per, Steve and Chris.

See you next month!

Hannah, Lucy and Joanna

Giving eels a helping hand on the Wandle

In 2017, we delivered the Wandle Eel Project in partnership with the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Environment Agency, Zoological Society London (ZSL), National Trust, and Wandsworth Borough Council.

Why?

European eels (Anguilla anguilla) once thrived in London’s rivers but the number of young joining the adult populations have dropped by over 95% since the 1980s and the species has been classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2008.

One of the major threats to eels in freshwater are barriers to upstream migration such as weirs and sluice gates that reduce the amount of habitat available for eels to grow and mature.

What’s been going on?

This project aimed to improve eel passage along the Wandle by installing eel passes at six locations where structures were a complete or partial barrier to migration. All installations were completed by Wandle Trust staff and assisted by local volunteers.

1. In June 2017, the existing eel pass at Morden Hall Park was repaired, extended and fitted with a monitoring trap. This site was then used by ZSL to train local volunteers, and National Trust staff to monitor elver migration along the Wandle.

2. The Topps Tiles tiles site in Earlsfield was delivered in December 2017 (in the snow), which included a row of lift out eel tiles with upstream deflector, and a section of low profile bed tiles on an adjacent channel. This site was testing the improved steel brackets which were fabricated by a local contractor/volunteer. These installations were designed as ‘easements’ to allow eels to navigate the fast flowing sections of the heavily modified concrete channels. Two old, defunct eel passes were disassembled and removed from site.

3. The Trewint Street easement was installed in December 2017, and consisted of a 30 m section of the new ‘low profile’ bed tiles that were commissioned for this project, with a short section of flexible bristles to navigate over a 300 mm wooden baulk at the upstream end.  This has provided an additional route up the left hand channel which offers a less turbulent route than the fish pass in the right hand channel.

4. The eel pass at EDF was installed during Dec 2017/Jan 2018 with a 15 m section of ‘low profile’ bed tiles. As some high tides overtop the weir, these works were designed to increase the range of time/tides that this structure would be passable to elvers.

5. Improvements to an existing eel pass upstream of Ravensbury Park were installed in March 2018. An extension piece was added at the upstream end to prevent debris blockages. At the downstream end, a deflector plate was added to reduce turbulence, and four standard bed tiles were installed to direct eels towards the pass entrance.

6. This gravity fed eel pass was installed on a small side channel near Poulter Park in March 2018. This was a cheaper and more secure alternative to a pass that had previously been stolen.

We would like to give a huge thanks to all our volunteers who helped install these passes and those who are continuing to monitor eel numbers during the current season!

Wandle cleanup: August 2018: Sutton

For our August cleanup, we headed to Beddington Park in Sutton.

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. The weather seemed a bit greyer than it has been for the past couple of months, but this didn’t seem to stop anyone’s enthusiasm to get going!

This area is maintained by the local council, so we were not expecting to find as much litter here compared to other sites. However, our volunteers still managed to find many plastic bottles, tin cans, plastic bags within the first couple of hours.

Within about 10 minutes, we also found two orange construction fences.

Halfway down the first stretch of river, a tree had fallen across the channel. This trapped quite a lot of plastic which we managed to clear. We also removed a road sign from this area too.

After a quick lunch break, we headed down the river once again, into the park. Derek managed to find a shopping trolley, however there was not much litter to find on this stretch of river.

In addition to litter, the river banks along this site were once heavily infested with Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant. We have been working with volunteers over the last few years to tackle balsam and were happy to see very few plants during this cleanup! This goes to show that the hard work of our volunteers is paying off.

So what did we find? 2 traffic cones, 2 construction fences, 1 road sign, 1 golf ball, 1 handbag, 1 plastic snake, 1 shopping trolley, 1 flag, 4 hub caps, wooden boards and planks, metal scraps, bags and bags of other items including tin cans, food wrappers, plastic bags and plastic bottles.

On a more serious note… These events truly demonstrate the impact that plastic waste is having on the environment. At every cleanup, we find many plastic bottles in the river, which can take up to 450 years to degrade in water! One easy thing that anyone can do to tackle this problem is to buy and use a reusable bottle.

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Dave for leading the work with Himalyan balsam, and Sutton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Amy, Martin, Steve, Derek, Paul, Sheila, Gearoid, John, Paul, Sue, Simon, William, Aaron, Phil, John, Sue, Sarah, Marilyn, Nico, Euan, Olivia, Charles, Rosie, Dave, Neil, Ser, Wally, and Chris. We had three new volunteers this month, so once again thank you to Euan, Paul and Gearoid for joining us. We hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you again at future events.

See you next month!

Lucy and Hannah

Wandle cleanup: May 2018: Merton

The one with the prehistoric trolley… 

For May’s cleanup we headed to Plough Lane in Merton – a site we hadn’t visited for over a year.

The day started in the usual way, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It wasn’t long until we were trekking down the Wandle Trail to get into the river and start the rubbish hunt.

It was a sunny, spring day and the vegetation along the banks was a gloriously green backdrop to our wading party. Within half an hour, the first item was found – a car seat!

As the day continued, Plough Lane gave us some equally interesting finds including a briefcase…

…A ukulele – nice playing Phil!

…A drone…

And perhaps my favourite find – a Pokeball. I had always wanted one growing up and this was my lucky day!

By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink and headed back to the tent for a break and some lunch.

In the afternoon, the wading team found a couple of challenges to keep themselves busy. The first was a trolley which, by the state of it, had been in the Wandle for many, many years.

The second was a bicycle – again buried so deep in the silt we were not sure what it was for about half an hour!

To finish the day we found a scooter and used it to head all the way back to the tent to pack up.

So what did we find?  1 trolley, 1 scooter, 1 jumper, 1 drone, 1 bicycle, 1 child bike, 1 washing line, 1 till, 1 licence plate, 1 dinosaur (and no I didn’t keep this one), 1 car mat, 3 dust sheets, a hessian bag full of rubble, 8 carpets and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and Merton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:    Alice, Andy, Annabelle, Becky, Beth, Bridget, Caitlin, Carol, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, Dave , Derek, Ed, Edward, Eiryn, Ethan, Garth, Gideon, Guy, Jim, Joanne, John, Kory, Lloyd, Madeline, Martin, Mevan, Michael, Paddy, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rose, Sarah, Sheila, Simon, Steve, Stewart, Sue, Thomas, Toby, Tom, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: April 2018: Sutton

The one where we needed an air freshener

 For April we headed to Culvers Avenue in Sutton.

We kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. At this event, I was joined by our new member of staff, Jess Mead, who will be helping me run community events on the Wandle, Hogsmill and Beverley Brook!

We headed up to Watercress Park to get in the river and started wading down one side of Culvers Avenue. We were lucky enough to have a new, adorable helper this month (see right image, and no that isn’t Jess!).

The pile quickly grew, with my favourite find of the day: a pool noodle.

As we worked through the morning, the weather took a turn for the worse and we were suddenly aware we were getting quite wet from the rain. But that didn’t dampen spirits as we found some new transportation…

And I was even given some flowers….

By lunchtime, we were wet and ready for a cup of tea. A big thanks to Wally for getting the hot drinks and cake ready – they were appreciated. In the afternoon, we headed down the other side of Culvers Avenue, finding the classic coconut…

A handy floatation device…

And some perfume – which came in very handy as we found some pongy items in the river and wanted our rubbish pile to smell less vile.

But with the rain pouring and the site clear, we called it a day.

So what did we find?  1 parasol, 1 pool noodle, 1 crutch, 1 scooter, 1 baby bike, 1 football, 1 safe, 1 mattress, 1 microwave, 1 champagne bottle (empty we promise..), 1 kettle, 1 basket ball hoop, 1 camping chair, 2 pogo sticks, 2 bikes, 2 tricycles, 4 coconuts,  lots of railings, pots and pans, and bags and bags of bottles and other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Andy, Chris, Dave, Derek , Frank, Gearoid, Geoff, Gideon, Guy, Jackie, Jane, John, Madeline, Marcus, Martin, Maude, Mickey, Nikolett, Paul, Phil, Roger, Sheila, Simon, Sofia, Teodora, Thea, Tom, Victoria, Wally, Wayne and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? If something smells really bad, it is handy to find perfume in the river to keep your rubbish heap smelling fresh.

Joint Press Release: Brown Trout in River Wandle Hit by Pump Failures

After the Carshalton Arm of the Wandle suffered low flows for another year (pictured above), we joined Tom Brake, the Environment Agency, SES Water and local Councillors, Jill Whitehead and Chris Williams, on the banks of the Wandle to discuss how we can better safeguard this precious south London chalkstream in the future.

Read the full joint Press Release below 

With the River Wandle’s brown trout population hit-for-six after SES Water’s pumps failed, leaving trout eggs exposed to the air, Tom Brake convened a top-level meeting with representatives from SES Water, the Environment Agency, and the South East Rivers Trust, as well as Councillors Jill Whitehead and Chris Williams.

During the walkabout along the river bank to see the work undertaken by volunteers, SES Water agreed to put in place plans to stop future pump failures and to safeguard the River Wandle’s brown trout.  SES Water and EA representatives also agreed to work with the South East Rivers Trust to ensure that the Wandle’s Carshalton arm is returned to its “Good Ecological Potential” status.

Tom Brake MP said:

“We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the river is restored to its nationally significant flagship standing.

“I want to thank the Wandle and South East Rivers Trust and all of its volunteers for being so committed to the health of the river. I am pleased to see that SES Water and the Environment Agency are working together with the Trust to ensure that the brown trout thrives and appropriate water levels are maintained.”

Bella Davies, Director of the Wandle Trust and South East Rivers Trust said:

“We are pleased that SES Water is committed to ensuring the River Wandle in Carshalton keeps flowing. The Wandle Trust has been working with the local community for many years to restore the Wandle, making it more resilient to drought and the pressures of its urban surroundings, but it’s all for nothing if there’s no water in the river.

“Water consumption in SES Water’s area is one of the highest per person in the country, and we can all do our bit to save water so that a little bit more can flow down the Wandle. In the meantime, the Trust will continue to work with SES Water and local people to help restore the local fish populations which have suffered as a result of these incidents at the pumping station”.

SES Water Managing Director Anthony Ferrar said:

“As a local Company we take our environmental responsibilities extremely seriously so we welcomed the opportunity to discuss the River Wandle and reiterate our commitment to balancing the impact of our essential activities. Over the last two years we have focussed on improving the resilience of the pumping station and are currently putting more contingency measures in place. We have also again offered for our staff to contribute their time through our ‘Give a Day’ scheme which helps strengthen our relationships with local organisations. As part of the National Environment Programme (NEP), we will continue to work with the Environment Agency, Thames Water and the South East Rivers Trust to assess options to further improve the ecological status of the River Wandle.”

For the past three years, the Carshalton arm of the Wandle River has experienced a significant drop in water levels due to malfunctions in the recirculation system monitored by SES Water. With conditions worsening, Carshalton residents have expressed extreme concern over the status of the river, a focal point of the town.

In order to maintain the vibrant ecology of the river, the South East Rivers Trust assumed responsibility in 2015 for restoring adequate water flow, water temperature, and the brown trout population to the Carshalton arm. In 2016, their rehabilitation of the River Wandle’s Carshalton arm won the Urban Category of the 2016 UK River Prize. However, due to continuous problems with the recirculation system, the improvements made by the South East Rivers Trust have regressed, leaving the river in a poorer ecological state.

For more information on the award-winning restoration of the Wandle River, visit https://www.southeastriverstrust.org/award-winning-restoration-on-the-wandle/

 

Wandle cleanup: March 2018: Merton

The Great British Spring Clean 2018

Our March event was part of The Great British Spring Clean!

The Rivers Trusts joined Keep Britain Tidy in assembling an army of #litterheroes for a UK wide mass cleanup. Did you know 80% of plastic in the oceans comes from land, and rivers are a significant pathway for it to get there? Well that is why in March this year, rivers trusts up and down the country held volunteer events to help clean up our rivers and beaches. So we stepped up on the Wandle!

The day started in the usual way, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing, and after that, our Litter Heroes set off to clear Waterside Way in Merton.

We have cleaned this site a fair few times now, and we always find large carpets, and today was no exception. We hauled this one out at the beginning of the event, and there were more to come.

Parts of a car started to emerge as well, such as tyres, a car bonnet …

.. an exhaust pipe…

And the car seat….

We have no idea if these were all from the same car, or bits of several different ones!

A computer keyboard was found so I could start writing this blog on site.

And a new toy for myself, a little squid which I took home and kept.

At lunchtime we were all starving, so we all headed back to eat our lunches, cake and warm up a bit with tea and coffee.

In the afternoon, some more great finds were discovered.

A razor shell…

A sad teddy bear

And a fyke net!

So what did we find?  1 fyke net, 1 tennis racket, 1 scooter, 1 walking stick, 1 Christmas tree, 1 sink, 1 squid toy, 1 car bonnet, 1 exhaust pipe, 1 toilet seat, 1 car seat, 1 sad teddy bear, 2 umbrellas, 2 frying pans, 2 traffic cones, 2 coconuts, 3 hoovers, 3 carpets, 3 wooden fencing posts (1 with its concrete base), 3 radios, 5 tyres, bits of several small kids’ bikes, bags and bags and bags of rubbish – I think we got through 120 sacks at least!

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Andy, Benit, Chris E, Chris S, Daniel, Dave, David, Derek, Ed, Eddie, Frank, Gideon, Guy, Ian, Jamie, Jane, Joanne, Joe, John, Johnny, Madeline, Neil, Nick, Patrick, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rory, Rose, Sheila, Simon, Steve B, Steve Mc, Steve M, Stewart, Su, Thomas, Tom, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: February 2018: Sutton

The one when it was very, very, very cold

 For February we headed to Poulter Park in Sutton, on a very cold day.

We kicked of the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. With the cold temperature, everyone was eager to get moving and so the event began!

As the event started, rubbish was slow to find. Our wading team made it quite a distance up the river before having to unload their first trugs – but as soon as they started, it didn’t stop!

Trug after trug full of cans, bottles, plastic bags and more were emptied and taken back to the rubbish pile. It wasn’t long until the classic Wandle coconut was found either!

After a short while, a smaller team of waders broke from the usual group and headed right to the other end of the park at Watermead Lane. They had their sights set on a safe that was rumoured to have been in the Wandle for 10 years or more.

The safe had not previously been tackled, as it was extremely heavy. However, with the extra bodies today, and the need to stay warm with lots of exercise, the challenge was accepted!

Dislodging the safe from the silty bed took some serious crow bar work. Then began the negotiations to get the safe up on to the river bank.

Ropes, crow bars and muscle seemed to be the solution but it still took considerable effort.

Once it was “ashore”, it dawned on everyone that we had only made it halfway, and the real test was getting it to the road so it could be collected.

The safe was eventually placed atop a wheel barrow, and an escort of 8 people carefully pushed it all the way to the end of Watermead Lane for collection.

After all this effort, it was time for cake. We were very happy to see the students at Richmond International University had baked some lovely Valentine’s treats for us again.

After lunch, we finished the remaining 100 m of the Wandle in the park, but with the temperature plummeting and little rubbish to be found, we stopped for the day to go home and defrost.

So what did we find?  1 safe, 1 duvet, 1 freezer, 1 rubber dinghy, 1 bag of apples, 1 coconut, 1 hedge trimmer, 1 motorbike, 1 scooter, 2 footballs, 2 traffic cones, 3 carpets, 8 metal poles and bags and bags of other smaller junk including plastic bottles, food wrappers and plastic bags.

We also saw a Kestrel, a Heron and a Little Egret while working!

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent on such a cold day, the students at Richmond International University for baking such lovely treats and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:    Andy, Ann, Carl, Charles, Cheick, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ellie, Eve, Frank, Gearoid, Gideon, Gustina, Guy, Hannah, Ian, Isabel, James, Joe, John, John, Kayle, Keith, Martin, Max, Michelle, Nikolay, Nikolett, Paul, Rosie, Sam, Sanud, Sheila, Simon, Sofia, Steve, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Theadore, Victoria, Vincent Wally, Wayne, William H and William M.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? No amount of hot tea can keep you warm!