National charity Surfers Against Sewage are organising a protest about pollution in the River Trent. The protest is due to take place at Stoke Bardolph on Saturday, April 23 at 1pm.
Local representative for the organisation, and Nottingham resident, Neil Cutts explained why he thinks the protest is important, which forms part of a National Day of Action on Water Quality this Saturday. The action will see many protests across the country.
In recent years there have been hundreds of ‘spillage’ sites in Nottinghamshire into smaller waterways and streams as well as directly into the Rivers Trent, Leen, Maun and Erewash, according to data compiled by environmental charity The Rivers Trust.
Mr Cutts said he has first-hand experience of the issue after he became sick after swallowing water while out paddle boating. He is concerned about the safety of adults and children who use rivers for activities or may consume some of the water. He fell off his board near the Trent Bridge and said he wasn't the only adult to get sick from that boating event.
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"We had gone for a paddleboard and there was a lot of debris in the river," he said. "I took a big gulp of water as I fell off. I felt okay until that evening then I got awful stomach cramps in the early morning. That lasted about a day and a half where I couldn't eat anything."
As well as potentially being damaging to human health, untreated sewage can have ecological impacts as well, causing harm to fish, animals and plantlife.
On Saturday, the protest will have a discussion and fact sheets around water pollution. They will also be collecting donations.
Last year a map revealing raw sewage being dumped in Radcliffe-on-Trent horrified residents and families. The map created by the Rivers Trust shows where sewage network discharge and overflows of untreated effluent and storm water into rivers.
The map uses data from event duration monitors which show the length of time over which sewage was dumped into waterways. Sewage is sometimes pumped out of the sewage system and into rivers, streams and the sea through safety release valves, known as ‘combined sewer overflows’.
Sewage leaves these valves when there is heavy rainfall – to prevent waste from backing up into homes. 'Storm overflows' are only supposed to take place under ‘exceptional circumstances’. In 2020 Bingham Road had a sewer storm overflow which spilled 129 times for a total of 324 hours. Sydney Grove Sewage Pumping Station in 2020 had a sewer storm overflow spill 241 times for a total of 5230 hours.
At the time, Severn Trent Water replied to concerns stating they are consistently recognised as a leading performer in the sector for their environmental credentials, having recently achieved the Environment Agency’s highest four star rating.