The Great Aire Outfall Safari

Thanks to the generous support of the public and the Big Give we have been able to crowdfund to run a series of citizen science surveys looking for pipes actively leaking pollution into the streams and rivers within our Valley.

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!
The Rivers Trust
Helping you understand what is in your river and why change is needed
Top of the Poops
Naming and shaming the dirtiest water companies to campaign for cleaner rivers

How Are we Going to Do It?

Each Outfall Safari is run over a couple of months. We ran our first one during September/October 2023. We hope to run it again in early Spring 2024.

Outfall Safaris use the national standard methodology for Outfall Safaris developed by the Zoological Society of London
Click here to find out more about the standard Outfall Safari method used by all river monitoring groups
In September 2023 will be training volunteers in the survey method. This will consist of two half days (on the same day). A morning's theory introduction to the sewage system, followed by an afternoon practice (on the same day) surveying and planning of becks to be surveyed.

Volunteers will then have until the end of October to survey their designated stretch of river. Working in pairs, this will be done using smart phones to log images, locations and pollution scores via a web based survey app. At the same time volunteers will be asked to phone in any gross pollution issues found to Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency’s Hotlines.

We are looking to work with local interest groups to wade some priority becks to map outfalls in areas with limited public access. The results will then displayed on our website via an interactive map. Written reports for each major beck will be shared with the Environment Agency and Water Company. We will work with both to try and get concerns addressed promptly.

Where Will We Do It?

Priority watercourses for this year’s survey are:
Eller Beck
Cononley Beck
Eastburn Beck
Silsden Beck
River Worth
River Aire
Harden Beck
Loadpit Beck
Gill Beck
Bradford Becks

Training days were run in September at:
South Craven

We are currently planning next Spring's dates - watch this space!
Sign up to get involved!

© Copyright Aire Rivers Trust 2020
The Aire Rivers Trust is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No: 07464227 and a Registered Charity No: 1145609
Registered Office at: 38 Morton Lane, East Morton, Keighley BD20 5RS
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