We can all play a part in reducing the pressure we put on our natural water resources.
Reducing pollution, which can be as simple as disposing of waste properly, helps protect our river environments and can also bring down our water bills by reducing the amount of treatment our waste water needs to make it safe.
- Dispose of Waste carefully. What goes down our sinks, toilets and drains has to be dealt with at water treatment works. Solid items (eg. cotton-buds, sanitary items, face wipes) or complex chemicals (eg. oils and paints) are much more difficult to treat. More chemical processing is needed, which makes treating waste water more expensive and polluting. Northumbrian Water has some good advice on what you can safely put down your drains – see the Dwaine Pipe campaign.
- Report pollution. If you see pollution, report it to the Environment Agency. You can call their hotline anonymously on 0800 807060. Click here to find out about the issues the Environment Agency deals with.
- Check your connections. Many homes have separate drains to deal with dirty water and surface water run-off from rain. If your home appliances, toilets, showers or baths are wrongly connected to the surface water drain then untreated dirty water can end up directly in rivers. The ConnectRight website has useful tips for checking existing connections or making new ones – click here for more information.
- Reduce surface water run-off. 98% of the rain falling in the Tyne catchment hits land before travelling into rivers via streams or surface water drainage systems. On its travels it picks up pollutants (eg. oil and salt from roads and driveways, soil from gardens and fields) which end up untreated in rivers. Choosing gravel or permeable paving instead of concrete or tarmac surfaces allows rain water to seep directly into the ground. Storing rainwater from your roof in a water butt can slow the flow of rainwater to drainage systems and help stop them overflowing. Keeping your drains clear (and especially not putting hot oil down them which solidifies and blocks them) will help stop them from backing up during heavy rainfall. All of these actions will help reduce flood risk too.
- Maintain your septic tank. If your septic tank is installed incorrectly, leaks or is poorly maintained it will pollute your land and, eventually, rivers. If you pollute water supplies or your neighbours’ land you risk being fined. Making sure your septic tank is maintained properly and emptied when needed will minimise the risk of pollution.
- In the garden. Landscaping with native plants can help reduce soil erosion and save you money. Native plants are adapted for our climate and, once established, do not need a lot of extra water or fertiliser. Many are deep rooted, allowing them to survive droughts and they help stabilise soil, as well as providing habitat and food for native wildlife and pollinators.