How to protect your rivers & streams
Through our involvement with the New Forest Catchment Partnership, we are helping to tackle the impacts of phosphate-rich waste-water on our environment

Coming from the food we eat and the cleaning products we use, the waste water from our homes and businesses is rich in the nutrient phosphate. This colourless chemical may not been seen in our waters, but it can spell disaster for our rivers and their wildlife. It acts as a plant nutrient, favouring nutrient-hungry algae and other invasive plants like bulrush, which then become dominant. This then affects the animals that live there. So water habitats that were once full of wildlife become polluted and dull, and very few plants or animals can live there. By being careful about the products that we use, and by managing our waste water systems well, we can reduce the damaging impact that pollutants can have on our wildlife and countryside.

Find out more about the issues caused by phosphate pollution in the phosphate leaflet.

What can homeowners do?

Even the best-maintained private systems don’t actively remove phosphate, so for those not on mains drainage, this can only be controlled by limiting inputs. Phosphates used in domestic cleaning products account for nearly a fifth of the phosphate in our waste water, and dishwasher detergents are a particular culprit with some containing over a third by weight of phosphate. Simply switching to phosphate free brands like Ecover, Planet Clean or Faith in Nature, can drastically reduce the amount of pollution in your waste water.

For those on private sewerage, ensuring that Septic Tanks or Package Treatment Plants are properly used and maintained, and frequently emptied, can protect the environment. Avoiding harsh chemicals, binning instead of flushing rubbish, and promptly fixing faults will enable tanks to work more effectively – following this ‘good practice’ advice will prevent pollutants getting into our local rivers and help householders to avoid costly repair bills. A clean house doesn’t have to mean a dirty river.

Please read these ten tips to find out how you can keep your systems in good order and avoiding environmental pollution.

The leaflets are part of the New Forest Catchment Partnership’s Septic Tanks and Small Discharges Project. This project is being hosted across all Catchments in the South East. To find out what else is going on in your area please visit the Catchment Based Approach website to find your local Catchment Partnership.

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