Charity works with Environment Agency to solve Leighton Buzzard pollution

‘Safari’ helped find the pollution
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A group of Greensand Trust volunteers have helped identify and hopefully solve a pollution issue in the River Ouzel in Leighton Buzzard through their ‘Outfall Safari’ activities.

An ‘Outfall Safari’ involves a simple walking survey, mapping where outfalls go into a river, and monitoring these to check for potential problems such as mis-connected plumbing, where ‘foul’ waste ends up going straight into a river instead of going to a sewage works for treatmen). Outfall Safari training for volunteers has been provided through the Upper and Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership.

In October the group met at the footbridge over the River Ouzel near King Street in Leighton Buzzard and it didn’t take long to identify a major issue – an outfall next to the group’s meet point was spewing brown water, wet wipes and far worse.

Teamwork helped find a solution to the pollutionTeamwork helped find a solution to the pollution
Teamwork helped find a solution to the pollution

The incident was phoned through to the Environment Agency’s Pollution Hotline, and the Trust has been liaising with the group since then. The agency has been working with Anglian Water to investigate and has identified the cause – a property in a nearby residential street was misconnected, with foul water that should have been going for treatment going straight into the river. The agency has worked with Anglian Water to resolve the issue and work took place to connect the property properly to the treatment system.

EA environment officer Tom Robertson said: “Thank you to all the volunteers for alerting us to this issue – it allowed ourselves and Anglian Water to work together to stop the discharge of sewage into the Ouzel. The photographs and videos supplied by the volunteers were very helpful in steering Anglian Water into action. I believe, from our collective efforts in this area of the Ouzel, the overall biological health of the watercourse will now improve.”

Greensand Trust director of development Jon Balaam, who is also vice-chair of the catchment partnership, said: “This really demonstrates the potential for local people to make a real difference, prompting action where pollution could have carried on happening for years.”

The Greensand Trust is an independent environmental charity that works with local communities and landowners to conserve and enhance the distinctive landscape, wildlife and history of the Greensand Ridge and wider area, improving access, understanding and enjoyment for the benefit of everyone.