As spring unfolds our thoughts turn to warmer days and the outdoors. Day trips to the beach, walks along the river bank or perhaps DIY and building projects. But have you ever thought how your actions at home might be causing pollution on your local beach?
Devon is a fantastic place to live with its rolling hills, stunning estuaries and some of the finest beaches in the country. From an early age I knew this, so I joined the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency) to help look after it. Since then industrial scale pollution has reduced and so our rivers are much cleaner and bathing water quality has improved dramatically over the last decade.
Whilst my colleagues and I are always ready to respond to pollution incidents, get our wetsuits on to test water quality and advise water companies where best to invest in cleaning up our waste waters, sadly this is not enough and we need your help.
The next challenges are not so easy to tackle. These are the ones caused by ordinary people every day at home.
Would you be surprised to know that your home could be causing pollution - from that washing machine you moved into the garage or the new extension or en-suite you are planning? Wrongly connected or misconnected plumbing takes dirty water and sewage from our homes and pumps it straight to our local rivers and beaches. This pollution not only looks ugly, but can harm wildlife, kill fish and could even make you sick.
I was surprised to find out that in some areas as many as 1 in 5 homes have drains misconnected in this way. These little mistakes add up to a big problem. Misconnected drains pollute 9% of our bathing waters and 15% of our rivers.
As an island we want our beautiful coastline pristine and seaside towns thriving. Tourism is worth around £3.6 bn each year – and the 146 million visitors to Britain’s beaches want to be confident that their sea water is clean and safe for their families.
The ConnectRight website provides all the advice and guidance you need, like advice to help you if you are planning a DIY job or building project this summer and links to a local accredited Watersafe plumber.
Then all we need for a perfect day at the beach is a bit of sunshine!
Technical Advisor - pollution prevention