Tag Archives: Pollution

Misconnected Madness

PAV

We’ve got some good news for the River Wandle!

At the start of our Pollution Monitoring scheme with the Environment Agency an outfall in Morden Hall Park was identified to be a chronic source of pollution – a likely misconnection problem.

Working closely with our local Environment Agency team, our volunteers helped to monitor this outfall gathering evidence of when pollution was spotted with photographic evidence. This extra information enabled the Environment Agency and Thames Water to investigate 412 homes in the area and discover 17 misconnected properties with 40 appliances discharging directly into the River Wandle.

This is a huge success for our Pollution Patrol project so thank you to our dedicated volunteers. We hope to have many more similar success stories in the future!

Read the full press article here

Our Pollution Patrol is still running today with 50 volunteers trained on our three rivers – Wandle, Hogsmill and Beverley Brook. Our local Wandle Environment Agency Officer Kate for the Wandle has kindly put together an update on pollution in the last few months and what we need to start focusing on now!

Wandle Pollution Update

Why not join us?

We are always keen to have more volunteers join our scheme. If you think you might be interested in joining the Wandle team (or Hogsmill or Beverley Brook team), please get in touch with us at pollution@wandletrust.org

Check your house: Make sure your house is connected correctly with the Connect Right website.

Wandle cleanup: June 2015: Sutton

The one with our new Invasive Species Officer

WatermeadsI had been very excited about this cleanup for a while as it was being held in the newly opened Watermeads Nature Reserve near Poulter Park – a truly beautiful site for a Wandle Trust event!

The event was funded through the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership. To start the event off, we introduced our new Invasive Species Officer – Alan Martin. Alan is working to coordinate the control of invasive species along the entire Wandle corridor with the help of other organisations, local landowners and volunteers.

After the Health & Safety briefing, all 41 of us divided up into 5 teams…

The Briefing

Team 1: The litter pickers!

Since Watermeads was so newly opened to the public, the litter pickers weren’t sure how much general rubbish they would find, but as always they tracked some down! Using our newly purchased litter pickers and our new bag hoops provided by the Capital Cleanup fund, they dispersed into Watermeads and returned with bags of litter!

Waders gonna wade

 

Teams 2 & 3: Wandle waders and bank support  

Again armed with new litter pickers, our wading team headed to the far end of the reserve to hop in the Wandle and start hunting down rubbish. Although shallow in the reserve, the river bed was very silty so the waders made slow progress as they moved upstream. With such high levels of silt, finding rubbish was a challenge – but that didn’t stop them! Using their feet they discovered two trolleys, rolls of carpet and several traffic cones and tyres, all before coffee time.

Trolley

Team 4: Balsam bashers

The Watermeads Nature Reserve was full of Himalayan balsam so Theo led a team to track down each plant and pull it out, roots and all. They first tackled balsam along the edge of the river and paths – to ensure these plants wouldn’t seed and spread further downstream. After this, the team bravely ventured into the undergrowth of nettles and brambles to find forests of balsam standing well above their heads.

Balsam Bashers

Team 5: Floating pennywort

Alan was keen to tackle the backwater pond in Watermeads which was full of floating pennywort – a highly invasive aquatic plant which can smother a water body and impede water flow. However, the site was challenging as the water was too deep for our waders. Some creative thinking was called for…

Pennywort piles

Volunteers used grappling hooks and rakes to pull in pennywort from the banks. It was a strange sight to see – volunteers lassoing hooks across the pond in the hope of snagging a large raft of pennywort. They quickly cleared one side of the bank and were in need of support to reach the other side.

HMS Pennywort

 

Boating

Two lucky volunteers stepped up and got into a boat. Using very, very small paddles, they freed pennywort from the other side and used grappling hooks to tow the rafts back to the bank. A true example of team work.

Pennyowrt Barrier

Meanwhile, Alan wanted to be sure the pennywort wasn’t spreading any further downstream. With the help of Dave, they created a barrier at the end of the pond to catch any straying bits of pennywort, containing the invasive in one place.

It was a very busy day but we achieved so much in just four hours! So a BIG thank you to all our volunteers who came and we look forward to seeing you at the next one on July 12th in Hackbridge – details to follow soon!

Rubbish Haul

So what did we find?  1 baseball bat, 1 old hairdryer, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 Hindu statue, 1 shovel head, 2 carpets, 4 footballs (including 1 Finding Nemo football, so glad we found him), 3 traffic cones, 3 trolleys, 5 plastic guttering poles, 11 tyres, piles of wood and metal sheets, many bags of other miscellaneous rubbish, piles and piles of Himalayan balsam and even larger piles of floating pennywort!

We found Nemo

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Sally and Ann for catering for our volunteers (carrot cake and cheese scones were delicious!), Jackie for supervising the Event Tent, Theo, Sally and Alan for helping supervise everyone on the day, National Trust for letting us loose in Watermeads Nature Reserve and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, AJ, Amarapuspa, Ann, Barry, Carol, Charles, Daniel B, Dave J, Dave W, David, Dennis, Derek, Ed, Felix, Harrison, Henry, Ian, Jackie, James W, Jane, Joe, John L, John N, Kas, Keith S, Marta, Marion, Mark, Nicholas, Nick H, Nick W, Per, Richard, Rose, Sally, Sue, Tara, Theo and Thomas C.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That you have to be very creative when tackling pennywort in a pond too deep to wade!

Pennywort

 

Monitoring Madness

Olly and I have taken a successful sample set from one of our Downstream Defender silt traps in Carshalton and the results look promising…

In 2013 we installed a suite of 3 Downstream Defenders as a pollution prevention method, cleaning surface water before it enters the river. This week has seen a few periods of extreme rain downfall and Olly braved the weather to look at the effect on the river.

As we know, rainwater is collected off our roads and channeled into the river by our surface water drains. Unfortunately with the rainwater goes all the other contaminants from the roads. This causes a first flush of pollution down the Wandle.

FirstFlush black wandle

Our Downstream Defenders are designed to reduce the severity of this first flush by removing some of the worst of the pollutants before they enter the Wandle.

Today we took samples of the water upstream of one of our Defenders (before) and downstream (after) to see what difference it is making to the water quality. The samples have been sent off to the lab and will not be back for a couple of months, but for now look at the difference in colour alone!

DOWNSTREAM DEFENDER

 

Wandle cleanup: April 2015: Wandsworth

The one with moped, after moped, after moped, after moped… you get the idea.

For April’s cleanup we were back at Trewint Street, a trusty location for some big rubbish items. This month’s cleanup was kindly supported by Seymour Green Estate Agents, and the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme, funded through the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund.

Getting ready

We kicked off the cleanup in the usual style and divided into 4 teams. The first team were in charge of removing two motorbikes from the river I had spotted the week beforehand, so armed with grapples and crow bars they set off.

Moped one...

The second team were also wading, but downstream of Trewint Street bridge where there was a fresh batch of rubbish to remove.

Waders

The third team provided the usual much needed bank support and finally Team 4 headed off to tackle the large pile of fly tipping on the Wandle Trail. And with almost 60 people at our cleanup – we were ready for a busy day.

Fly-tipping

No sooner had everyone got started, the motorbike team were pulling out mopeds with some pace. Turns out there were more than just the two spotted the week before. By lunchtime, 8 had been pulled out of the Wandle and we called the local police in to check the number plates.

Moped 2

Heave ho!

Our fly-tipping team were making a huge difference, removing junk wood, household objects and building waste from the large pile on the Wandle Trail. They even found a trolley which came in handy when moving the bikes.

Moped 3?

Just before lunch, the Mayor of Wandsworth, Stuart Thom, came to visit all the volunteers and see the enormous amount of rubbish we were finding.

The Mayor

By coffee time, everyone was ready for a break. The rubbish pile was already huge and it was clear we were going to break a record at this cleanup. This month’s cakes were baked for us by two new volunteers – Ida Nyander Soderhielm and Tatiana Von Gaisberg.

The afternoon saw yet more rubbish and more mopeds….

Moped 4?

Moped 5/6?

And another

So what did we find? 1 ladybug toy, 1 trolley (classic), 1 set of Christmas lights, 1 bowl, 1 radiator, 1 extension chord, 1 umbrella (not much use now), 1 mermaid painting, 1 scooter, 1 sports bag, 1 TV, 1 football, 1 orange tilt, 2 prams, 5 rugs, fencing panels, wooden pallets, 3 chairs, 3 tyres, 9 mopeds, loads of wood and around 80 bags of rubbish.

Huge thanks to those who helped me pack up and unload at the end of the day and to Jamie who kindly came to the garage with me;  Tatiana and Ida for catering for our volunteers; Wally and Chris for helping supervise everyone on the day and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Adele, Aimee, Carol, Charles, Charlotte, Chris, Colin, Daniel, David H, Derek, Diana, Geroid, Hannah, Howard, Ida, James, Jamie, Jason, Jo, John N, Kate, Lea, Leigh, Luisa, Marco, Margie, Mays, Mhairi, Mike, Nicky, Oliver, Penny, Per, Pip, Richard, Rob, Russell, Sarah, Serena, Simon, Sue, Sumi, Tatiana, Tia, Victoria, Wally, Wayne, Will and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That you never know how many mopeds are lurking in the Wandle waters.

Eel tally: 4

SeymourGreen

LWLPS LOGO

Landscape Logo pantone 2747

 

 

Wandle cleanup: March 2015: Sutton

The one with 200 car tyres 

So March saw us return to Poulter Park in Sutton for a spring clean. Our event was supported by the Big Green Fund, with 48 volunteers attending to litter pick, wade and plant trees in the park. It was a busy busy day!

What’s the Big Green Fund?

With so many jobs to do we divided into 3 teams: waders and their support, litter pickers and tree planters. Peter Wilkinson (BGF Project) led the tree planters armed with spades (which I have learnt are different from shovels) and over 200 tree saplings to the chosen sites marked out with paint.

Planting Areas

Meanwhile litter pickers were dispatched and waders hopped in the Wandle with team leader Theo. Pretty soon our wading team discovered a shocking number of tyres in the Wandle. It started with 5 being pulled out, which was crazy enough. But every time I came back to check on everyone there were more and more. The total at lunch was close to 60!

IMG_2932

As well as tyres we found other car parts including 2 car seats, a dashboard and licence plate. Which gave us an idea….

IMG_2948

The litter pickers had their work cut out with bottles, cans and crisp packets carpeting the undergrowth in the park. By the time we stopped for lunch the rubbish pile was already one of the biggest yet and the park was looking much cleaner already. Sally made us a delicious Easter cake with mini eggs on top and Jana brought a homemade ginger cake and cupcakes; all of which we were very grateful for. And one of our volunteers was prepared with a Chinese takeout for their lunch!

Chinese takeout!

After lunch we got right back to it. The tree planters finished off their third area having planted a total of 210 saplings. They then joined to help shift all the tyres we were finding. We never got an exact count but it was over 200! We all had different tactics to get the tyres to the rubbish pile. Some used wheel barrows, some carried two like body builders and some rolled them all the way there.

IMG_2963

Although the tyres were the star of the day, we made several other discoveries including a set of 3 silver trophies!

IMG_2966

By 3 o’ clock we were exhausted and ready for home so we packed up the van and left the huge rubbish pile and 200 tyres for Sutton Council to collect in the morning – many thanks to them for organising this for us.

IMG_2969

So what did we find? 1 net, 1 table leg, 1 coffee machine with instructions, 1 boat oar, 1 diving shoe, 1 pram, 1 gas meter, 1 car dashboard, 1 watering can, 1 bucket, 1 tool kit minus the tools, 1 traffic cone, 2 stuffed animal toys, 3 trophies, 4 car seats, several bits of scaffolding, lots of random metal and piping, fencing, 50 bags of other rubbish and a record breaking 200 tyres!

Huge thanks to Michael who met me in the morning to load up the van;  Sally and Jana for catering for our volunteers; Theo and John for helping supervise everyone on the day and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Alan, Alex, Barry, Bruno, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Elliott, Gearoid, Helen, Ian, Jamie, Jan, Jana, Janet, Jason, Joe, John B, John L, John N, Ken, Lauren, Lloyd, Mark, Michael B, Michael H, Nicola, Per, Rob, Rose, Sally, Stewart, Theo, Tom, Tony and Victor.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That you never know what surprises the Wandle will have in store for you.

 Eel tally: 1

Wandle cleanup: February 2015: Merton

The one when no one would leave! 

The second Sunday of the month comes around quickly! For February we went back to Plough Lane in Wimbledon to tackle a stretch further down the Wandle Trail.

Almost 50 volunteers joined us at 11am, some regular faces but also some new such as students from the American International University in London and a team from the Pink Group – a local PR company who chose the Wandle Trust as their charity for this year. A big thanks to them for picking us and coming to help!

Students Working Hard

 

The Pink Group

Before going any further, I have to send a special thank you to Wally who got the key to the gate at Plough Lane allowing me to reverse the van – very slowly – down to the site for an easy unload! Thanks Wally!

After the Health and Safety briefing we got started. A team of waders got in the river and started upstream. Meanwhile out litter pickers dispersed along the Wandle Trail discovering a couple of fly tipping sites on the way with two trolleys!

Fly-tipping patrol

Our wading team were also finding plenty of sodden items, filling trug after trug. Supporting the wading team were a number of strong volunteers manning the grapples and ropes.

The rubbish pile grew quickly before lunch – some highlights were a 30ft fireman’s hose…

Fireman Hose

… a sodden carpet buried in the silt…

Heave Ho!

.. and a ladybird toy for me…

Ladybird

We stopped for lunch with some delicious leek soup and bread made by Sally. After warming up we got back to it.

The wading team found themselves a challenge in the afternoon: a trolley buried deep in the mud tangled in a lot of wire fencing. Teaming up, the grapples were set and everyone grabbed on to pull. With a lot of pulling and poking with crow bars the first batch of wire was freed:

Wire 1

Followed by the second…

Wire 2

And finally a very very old trolley! This one I didn’t try and ride in…

Trolley

Not long after this another challenge was discovered – a buried carpet. Once again the troops were summoned and everyone grabbed the rope to heave and ho. By this time it was gone three but no one was leaving until they had got the carpet out!

Heave Ho again!

Thankfully it came out and we all packed up to head home. Just as the van was leaving, Merton Council appeared to remove the rubbish – a great day’s catch!

February's Haul

So what did we find? 1 bed base, 1 fan, 1 30ft fireman’s hose, 1 paddling pool, 1 lawn mower, 1 car barrier, 1 scooter, 1 vacuum, 1 vacuum head, 1 smiley face, 1 garden trellis, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 bike, 1 rake, 1 mop, 1 plastic Christmas tree,  3 traffic cones, 3 trolleys, 4 footballs, 5 rolls of carpet, plastic roofing, piping, loads of wire fencing, polystyrene and countless bags of random, muddy rubbish.

Huge thanks to John who met me in the morning to load up the van;  Sally for catering for our 48 volunteers; Theo and John for helping supervise everyone on the day; Wally for getting us the key to the gate, and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish on the day.

And I also want to thank my Auntie Sarah for knitting me the warmest hat in the world – I was cosy on a cold February morning!

Cleanup selfie

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Abigail, Aimme, AJ, Anthony, Brian, Caragl, Charles J, Charles WS, Chris, David. Derek, Felix, Francesca, Graham, Helen, Ida, Jamie, John L, John N, Josef, Justin, Kai, Kaitlynn, Kay, Ken, Kyenna, Marcel, Marianna, Mattia, Mike, Neil, Nikolaus, Patricia, Patrick, Per, Rose, Sally, Sarah, Spencer, Stella, Tatiana, Theo, Tim, Verity, Victoria MP, Victoria P, Wally and Wayne.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  When Wandle volunteers find a challenge, it is hard to get them out of the river!

What does the Wandle mean to you?

You have the chance to have your say in how the Wandle is managed in the future. 

The Environment Agency has published draft River Basin Management Plans for every river in the UK and they want to hear your opinion!

To help you get involved and add your voice, WWF have created an easy way to make your opinions heard.

Got a couple of minutes? Answers these quick 5 questions. 

Got a bit longer? Give us more detail on what you value to be important to your local river here. 

Share this with your friends and family – #SAVEOURWATERS

 

Wandle cleanup: January 2015: Merton

The one with the grabber lorry

With Sunday 11th bring the second Sunday of January – it was time for the first Wandle Trust cleanup of 2015.  Last year, we pulled out 8.5 tonnes of rubbish from the River Wandle – and we are keen to break this record in the next 12 months.

We started 2015 in Merton on North Road and as usual we got started after a Health & Safety briefing. We had 38 volunteers with us on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning – as well as our faithful supervising dog, Basher.

Basher

We split into two teams – waders and litter pickers. Our wading team hopped in the river and worked upstream finding all sorts of rubbish. It didn’t take long before they scouted out some “challenges” including a buried water tank which took grapples and some serious muscles to heave out of the river.

Water Tank

Soon our litter pickers returned having scouted out the park and surrounding area. They had discovered 3 trolleys further upstream and a giant piece of plastic roofing wedged by a tree downstream; both of which our wading team just couldn’t resist!

The trolleys were relatively simple – muscles and grapples – with all three trolleys in relatively good nick so we could push them (or hitch a ride in them) back to the rubbish pile.

Trollied

The plastic roof sheeting was another story. Roughly 3 metres wide and 5 metres long, the sheet was awkward and heavy to pull out of the river and disentangle from the undergrowth on the banks. However once free, all it took was a couple of huskies to pull the sheet back up the hill to the rubbish pile. Woof woof!

Plastic Roof

Huskies!

After hauling this sheet up the hill, we decided everyone deserved a break so we all gathered back at the tent for cheese scones and hot tomato soup kindly supplied by Sally and Jana.

But I wouldn’t let everyone rest for long as we had plenty of rubbish to remove! The afternoon saw the usual collection of Wandle objects:

Many many bicycles – including one which was so new, we rode it back to the pile!

Bicycle

Scooters galore!

Scooters

A golf club

A car door – my new ride…

My new ride

and a toy dinosaur – I always have to find a toy.

Dinosaur

At half two, Stan from Merton Borough Council appeared with the grabber lorry to collect the rubbish causing a stir of excitement back at base.  We got to see the grabber in action as it crushed our metal water tank as if it were made of paper.

Crushing Power!

So what did we find? 1 wheelchair, 1 leaf blower, 1 giant plastic roof sheet, 1 plastic dinosaur, 1 vacuum cleaner, 1 water tank, 1 car door, 1 frying pan, 1 bucket, 1 petrol tank, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 pineapple, , 1 half coconut shell, 2 traffic cones, 2 barrels, 4 tyres, 7 scooters, 7 bicycles, lots of carpets, miscellaneous piping, bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks to Gideon and Michael who met me early to load and unload the van; Sally and Jana for catering for our 38 volunteers; Theo and John for helping supervise everyone on the day; to the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish on the day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: AJ, Bella, Bertie, Charles, Chris E, Chris L, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Elliot, Felix, Gerald, Gideon, Guy, Harry, Jamie, Jana, Jane, Jason, John, Keith, Mark, Matylda, Michael F, Michael H, Ollie, Penny, Richard, Sally, Stewart, Theo, Tim, Toby and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That even if it looks like there is little rubbish in the river, the Wandle volunteers will somehow find enough to fill a lorry!

Fungi versus Diffuse Pollution

Our Water Quality Officer, Olly, has been having a busy few months working to tackle urban diffuse pollution on the River Wandle.

If you missed the introduction to his work – have a quick read now!

This week, Olly, myself and some lucky volunteers will be installing the next pollution mitigation measure: Mycofilters.

Mycofilters (Mycos for short) are mesh sacks packed full of straw, wood chip and mycelia (the non-fruiting part of fungi). Over time the mushroom mycelia grow throughout the sack and create an expert filtration device. Once placed in the river, the mycelia filter out contaminants from the water which passes through them.

Mycos!

The Wandle Trust has already trialled growing and installing these filters. In November 2014, we held another successful volunteer day to make a further 60 bags with a slightly modified and more robust design.

This week we will be taking these fully grown Mycos and installing them on sites where pipes are potentially polluting the river. The Mycos will be installed securely to ensure there is no flood risk and will be monitored carefully over the next two months to determine their effectiveness.

So if you spot something odd looking close to the river – it is probably a Myco! Please don’t remove them and if you see one in jeopardy – let us know!

A BIG thank you to our Myco-making volunteers from November. Thanks to you we managed to make 6 Mycos in less than four hours! I’d also like to thank our sewing team who took the time to sew up 60 bags for us to stuff full of pollution busting goodness.

Our Myco Makers!

 

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?

I am sure many of you have started to think about what New Year’s resolutions you might make for 2015. If you’re like me, I usually go for “exercising more”, which means joining the gym and then proceed to never use my membership…

But help is at hand. The Wandle Trust has some suggestions for your resolutions this year, and they’re a bit different because they’re all about your local river!

Resolution One: Report Pollution!

If you spot a pollution incident on the Wandle or any other river, report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60. You are the eyes and ears for your local stream so don’t hesitate to report anything you think is unusual!

Connect your House right

Resolution Two: Connect Right

Some pollution is caused by bad plumbing. Houses may have been connected to the wrong drainage system, sending waste directly into the nearest river. You can check that your house is connected right at www.connectright.org.uk

Resolution Three: Clean with Care

Phosphates are a big problem in both urban and rural rivers. A high phosphate level reduces water quality and increases the growth of algae blooms. Eco-friendly detergents are specially manufactured to have a minimal phosphate content, so you can use these to protect your river and its wildlife.

Wash with Care!

Resolution Four: Wash with Care

If you wash your car or wheelie bin directly on the road, any chemicals you’re using will go straight into the drains on the road which lead to the river. However if you wash these items (and anything else) on your gravel drive or grass garden, you are adding a buffer which reduces chemicals heading to the river.

Resolution Five: Save Water

The more water you use, the more water needs to be abstracted from local water sources and treated by your local sewage treatment works. So by using less water, you keep more water in  the river for wildlife, but also reduce the volume which needs to be cleaned.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015? Let us know by Twitter or Facebook!