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The Bourne Stream Partnership

Surface Water Pollution Solutions

It seems to be a little known fact that any substance entering our surface water drainage system (i.e. the drains in the street) is likely to end up in the stream, washed down there by rain.  

It's important that we are aware of this, and that we take whatever small steps we can to prevent pollution of our local waterways.

How you can help ...

Your drain connections at home

If you have an older house with a combined drainage system you cannot have a wrong connection; all the water from your house is collected in one sewer and flows to a sewage treatment plant.  

If you have a separate system there's a chance that your household pipework might be misconnected and discharging foul waste to the surface water sewer:

Please don’t ...

Do ...

Connect waste pipes from toilets, showers, baths, sinks and water using appliances into roof-water down-pipes or gullies.

Ask your local council for advice when connecting a waste pipe to a drain.

Ignore existing wrong connections.

Check your existing drains.  If you find a wrong connection, put it right.

Dispose of oil, garden or household chemicals or cleaning waste (especially bleach) down any open drain, into gutters or onto the garden.

Ensure that when you buy a house there are no wrong connections.  Ask your surveyor to include this on the report.

Remember, it's an offence under the Water Resources Act 1991 to cause pollution of any waters, whether accidental of otherwise.

TIP: if all the rainwater from your property (e.g. from your roof) drains to a soak-away, and if your driveway or patio does not drain onto the highway, you may be eligible for a reduction in your Sewerage Bill from Wessex Water.  

Telephone the surface water drainage line: 0845 601 5982 (24 hours) for an application form.

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In your garden

Excess fertiliser and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams.  Lawn clippings and leaves can wash into surface water drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to streams.  

Fertilizer isn't a problem if it's properly used.  In water it acts just as it does in your garden - it makes things grow - but in the stream it can be unsightly algae and aquatic plant life that grows to excess.  As algae decay they use up oxygen that fish and other aquatic organisms need to survive.

So please:

  • Don’t over water your lawn; consider using a hose instead of a sprinkler;

  • Use pesticides, fertilisers and other sparingly.  Better still, use organic mulch or safer pest controls whenever possible;

  • Compost or mulch garden waste;

  • Cover piles of sand or dirt that are being used in landscaping projects;

  • Have a water butt installed to reduce run-off from your roof, and use the water on your garden.

At commercial premises  

Dirt, oil and debris that collect in car parks and paved areas can be washed into surface water drains and eventually into the stream. 

Please sweep up litter and debris from pavements, driveways and car parks - especially around surface water drains.

Report any oil or chemical spill to the Environment Agency; they’ll know how best to keep it from causing too much harm.  

Their hotline number is 0800-807060

Resurfacing your drive, patio or forecourt

Traditional concrete, tarmac and block paving surfaces rely heavily on surface water drains to divert unwanted water. 

Permeable systems allow rain to soak through, decreasing surface water run-off.

Ask your contractor, or contact our Project Officer

Soap detergents (even the biodegradable types) can have a poisonous effect on all types of aquatic life, and cause severe damage to fish gills. 

Your car

Washing your car and degreasing parts at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the surface water drains to the stream.

So, please:

  • try to wash you car where water can infiltrate the ground rather than run to drains (on the lawn, or a gravel drive). 

  • otherwise, use a commercial car wash – one that treats or recycles its wastewater preferably!

  • repair leaks and dispose of oils, other fluids and unwanted batteries at designated or recycling locations  

Dumping engine oil and other fluids into the drain is another big no-no! 

Oil doesn't dissolve in water.  It lasts a long time and sticks to everything, from sediment to birds feathers.  Oil and other petroleum products are toxic to people, wildlife and plants.

Building & DIY

Sand from local building projects has shown up as a problem since Operation Streamclean started, so please don't brush any unwanted building materials down the nearest surface water drain.  

Run-off from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality, contributing sediment and other pollutants exposed at construction sites. 

  • cover loose materials so that sand and cement, etc. doesn't get washed down by rain

  • on new developments, try to seed or mulch bare areas as soon as possible.  

NEW EXTENSION?  Please ensure toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, baths, and showers are connected to the sewer - NOT to a surface water drain! 

Sediment from building works can impact the aquatic ecosystem by affecting photosynthesis, respiration, and reproduction of aquatic life. 

Dog.jpg (4975 bytes)Your pets

Pet waste can be a major source of bacteria and excess nutrients to the stream - and a public health hazard too, especially for children playing in the shallow waters.

Just as with human waste, it's full of bacteria that can make people (especially children) and other animals very sick. 

Pet waste is washed by rain from streets and gardens in the catchment area and can enter the stream through the surface water drainage system, so please clean up after your pet wherever you are.

When walking your pet, and even in your own garden, please pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly (at home, flushing is the best disposal method).

Together, oil and fuel are responsible for a quarter of all water pollution incidents. Leaks and spills from sites such as petrol stations and oil stores add to this problem and can cause pollution of groundwaters.  Source: Environment Agency

Visit the Water Pollution Guide, for information about the sources of water pollution and how they can be treated, and the potential danger pollution causes.

Remember, it's an offence under the Water Resources Act 1991 to cause pollution of any waters, whether accidental of otherwise.  

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