Why Do It?
The River Aire has the dubious honour of ranking in the top 8 most polluted rivers in England and Wales by campaign group Top of the Poops. The rivers and streams along the Aire system received 13,810 hours of sewage discharge, from known and monitored sewage system outfalls in 2022.
These sewage discharges matter because with them flows nutrients that put our river under stress killing fish, tampons and wetwipes that blight our litter, and bacteria that makes recreational users ill. The scale of these spills can be explored via the national Rivers Trust interactive sewage map below.
This data only tells us part of the story. It doesn't show the trail of wetwipes and plastics left by the sewage spills. They are so common in some areas after winter floods that one of our volunteers nicknamed them "the Bradford blossom" in Spring.
Another concern we have for water quality in the catchment is the number of faulty, mis-connected, un-mapped or un-monitored outfalls. These deliver uncounted hours of sewage, industrial chemicals or other pollutants to our becks and rivers.
Misconnections can be the result of mistakes made by builders or historic relics of our urban landscape. Through them flows untreated effluent from our toilets and washing machines, even in dry weather.
To help us unpick the problem we need volunteers to walk our waterways mapping pipes and other outfalls, as well as spotting immediate pollution problems too!