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Groundwork East has been spreading its message on water pollution and how we can do more to stop it

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A water pollution awareness group has hit the road to spread its message with the backing of councils and the Environment Agency.

Groundwork East and its mascot Eddy visited Diss and Harleston to share the dangers of surface water pollutants finding their way into drains and water courses, as part of its Yellow Fish campaign.

Forty-three-year-old Jane Herbert, project manager for Groundwork East, has been co-ordinating the campaign.

Jane Herbert of groundwork charity which is part of a group which is raising awareness for water pollution...Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.
Jane Herbert of groundwork charity which is part of a group which is raising awareness for water pollution...Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.

Explaining the key pollution issues facing our watercourses, she said: “The main pollutant that causes issues in the local water environment is phosphate, which is a nutrient found in human waste and washing powders.

“It becomes a problem when high levels enter the water environment and creates excessive growth of some plants that can damage natural habitats. The main way it enters our rivers is in fertilisers used in farming and sewage.”

“Micro-plastics are another issue, which has many sources, including tyres and being washed off from roads.

“The full impact that micro-plastics have, once they enter the environment, is not yet known, but it does enter the food chain and will impact many species, including humans.”

Only 14 per cent of the Waveney catchment is classified as ‘good’ for phosphate levels, leaving 86 per cent as being in need of improvement.

Other pollution problems involve metals and oils washed off roads and cars, which can then be ingested by fish and other aquatic animals, severely impacting their health.

Eddy has been helping spread the message. (45953924)
Eddy has been helping spread the message. (45953924)

“There are a few different ways we can help resolve these problems,” said Miss Herbert.

“From using litter bins and environmentally-friendly cleaning products to ensuring we are not disposing of chemicals, fats or oils in sinks, drains and toilets.

“These can block the sewage pipes and result in untreated sewage entering the water environment when these pipes become overwhelmed.”

So far, the campaign has engaged with communities in Diss, Harleston, Beccles and Bungay since the end of last year, although much of the Yellow Fish campaign message is still being delivered remotely while coronavirus restrictions have been in place.

“This has involved posting information about the campaign to local Facebook groups and sending information on to schools, businesses and organisations in these towns,” said Miss Herbert.

“We also hope to able to use our mascot Eddy and a series of two-minute informative videos to spread the Yellow Fish message of ‘Only Rain Down the Drain’ in schools and at community events this summer and autumn.”

The Groundwork East team hopes to resume face-to-face campaigning this summer.

“Groundwork is a community charity with a green heart,” added Miss Herbert.

“We run projects that change places and change lives.”

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