Streamclean cleans up in Dorset
A specialist team from Wessex Water has helped ensure an important stream which runs through Poole and Bournemouth is clearer than ever this summer.
Operation Streamclean is an expert pollution hunting team run by Wessex Water to find the cause of pollution in streams and rivers across the region. Equipped with a CCTV camera, a high-pressure water jetter to clear blockages, dye testing and sampling equipment, the team respond to calls about polluted watercourses and track down the pollutant’s source
Recently Streamclean has been working closely with the Environment Agency and the Bourne Stream Partnership to trace all sources of pollution affecting the stream. The team had already identified several misconnected properties and businesses before they were called to investigate foam floating on the top of the water. The team traced the source of the foam to a nearby outfall and followed it back through the drainage system for more than a mile leading them to a local business.
Visiting the business the team discovered one of its drains into which dirty water was flowing was connected to the surface water system. The business immediately took steps to stop water entering the drain.
Sarah Austin from the Bourne Stream Partnership said local residents are delighted at the success.
“In the matter of a couple of weeks Streamclean managed to solve causes of pollution that had been going on for a few years,” she said.
“We are thrilled with its success and so are the residents. Now all the calls I get are from people saying how wonderful it is that the stream is so clean.”
Claire McClumpha from the Environment Agency added: “It was a good result and shows how we can improve the water environment by working in partnership.”
Streamclean coordinator Larry Spiers said he was pleased with his team’s success in helping to improve the water quality in the Bourne Stream, but added that his team still had plenty of work finding other sources of watercourse pollution throughout the region.
“Misconnections are the most common cause of pollution in watercourses,” he explained.
“Sometimes a builder can decide it is more convenient and less costly to use surface water drains to dispose of waste water. However, there are also occasions when DIY enthusiasts and developers make genuine mistakes.
“The problem is that one misconnection can breed further misconnections and this can have a disastrous effect on the watercourse.”
Properties usually have two separate drainage systems: the foul sewer system, which collects water from toilets, baths, showers, washing machines, and dishwashers and takes it to the local sewage treatment works; and the surface water drainage system which collects rainwater and discharges it into local streams.
Problems occur when household appliances have been misconnected to the surface water system, which leads to water being discharged into streams without being treated. This damages the environment and could be a potential health hazard.
The Streamclean team first traces pollution to the point at which it enters the watercourse. They then follow the pollution back through the drainage system by carrying out tests at manholes, which invariably leads them to the source of the pollution, which can sometimes be miles away from where it flows into the watercourse.
“On one occasion we traced the source of the problem more than four miles away from where it was spilling into the river,” Larry said. “We appreciate people may not be aware of a problem but equally it is important that if they suspect something is wrong that they contact us straight away.”