Environment Agency and Thames Water to tackle river pollution in Berkshire

The Environment Agency and Thames Water have been working together to improve the quality of Slough’s rivers by launching a series of pollution prevention campaigns in the town’s most populated areas.
Environment officers were out this week giving advice and guidance to businesses in the Slough Trading Estate, which is located between the Chalvey Ditches and the Salthill Stream.
These visits highlighted the potential for urban diffuse pollution to cause damage to the natural environment. This is pollution from homes, town centres, industrial estates and transport routes that is washed down the surface water drains and flows into the river, damaging the environment. Guidance on companies’ legal responsibilities and good environmental practices were also given.
Sites on industrial estates can be significant contributors to urban diffuse pollution of watercourses by surface water runoff. The Environment Agency regulate, and provide advice and support to, businesses to improve actual and potential pollution from these sites. High risk activities include oil and chemical storage and handling, car washing where runoff flows to surface water drains, and sewer misconnections.
Jc Hall, a Senior Environment Officer, said: “Diffuse pollution from industrial estates is a common and serious problem. Often, the pollution results from a lack of knowledge about the premises, such as knowing which drains link to the foul sewer and which link to the surface water system, which run directly into the river.”
Within the last few years, The Chalvey Ditches and the Salthill Stream have been devastated by a number of industrial pollution incidents, killing fish and invertebrates and causing long-term damage to the river environment. The Environment Agency’s priority is to prevent pollution incidents occurring again in the future and the campaign has been designed to inform companies of simple steps and precautions they can take to help achieve this.
The Myrke Ditch, to the south of Slough, has also suffered from pollution incidents. However this pollution is caused by the build up of fats, oils and grease being put into drains, where it accumulates in the foul sewer system and causes blockages. These blockages cause the sewage to backup and overspill into the Myrke Ditch.
Thames Water and the Environment Agency are working with residents and businesses in the town centre to increase awareness of the detrimental effects of putting fats, oils and grease down the drain.
Dan Horsley, an Environmental Monitoring Officer, said: "Despite its urban nature, recent fish surveys on the Salthill Stream have shown at least ten species of fish to be present, including chub, dace, roach, tench and perch.
“These surveys highlight the potential for fish within the stream. However, certain species such as dace are particularly sensitive to poor water quality and this may be restricting any increase to the population."
It is hoped that through this pollution prevention campaign the number of fish and other animal species in these streams will increase, making the streams better for people and wildlife.
Howard Brett, Thames Water's Wastewater Regulation Manager, said: "Too often, there's a view that once something is 'down the drain', then the problem has gone away.
“But that isn't always the case, whether it be yard drainage on industrial sites or cooking fat being poured down the sink. What we're trying to do is inform and educate our customers about the consequences of this approach, which although may be unintentional, is damaging to the environment."
All media enquiries: 0118 953 5555 Please ask for the duty press officer Environment Agency news releases, both national and regional, can be found on its web site: www.environment-agency.gov.uk
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