Here at Circle One Surf Company we are passionate water sport enthusiasts. Water sports enthusiasts who believe that by designing and manufacturing long lasting, durable products we can minimise the impact on the environment. Our eco pledge combines our products longevity with a wetsuit recycling scheme, a HUGE reduction in plastic use on our packaging & at our offices as well as the support of SAS and their ongoing campaigns. However sometimes all that is required is a platform to speak.
That’s why we invited Simon Hunter (CEO Bristol Avon River Trust), to speak to our customers about the River Trust and the impact it has on all of us, as surfers, waterway users and beach goers.
Read on to find out more.
Words by Simon Hunter, CEO Bristol Avon River Trust – @bristolavonrt, Bristol, UK
Rivers; the arteries to our oceans… (Words by Simon Hunter)
We’re all experiencing a kind of collective trauma. The pandemic, climate change and the declared ecological emergencies – it can all get quite overwhelming. How do we find our way through that?
One of my favourite nature writers, Robin Wall Kimmerer has written that if we “restore the land, we restore ourselves” and I believe the same can be said for water – with healthy lifeblood, our rivers, streams, and seas will flourish as will the life that depend on them.
Nature works hard for us, let’s work hard for nature. Nature is at the heart of delivering on the Paris Agreement and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach… We have the power to turn things around. Despite humans being the most intellectual species to inhabit this planet, we’re doing a pretty fine job at destroying the earth beneath our feet and impacting other species that’s life depends on it.
Let’s take freshwater – our “lifeblood” as a case in point. Our freshwater environments supply water for all our needs as well as preventing erosion and providing natural protection from flooding. Swimmers, paddle boarders, kayakers, boaters and anglers all enjoy their waters for recreational purposes. Our rivers have also been absolutely critical to the development of our economy, supporting our industrial revolution and providing a vital trade transportation link between our cities. Our rivers are also the arteries to our ocean, to those of us who enjoy our seas, whether that be for surfing, swimming or simply enjoying the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore, we deserve clean natural environments to play in. We must therefore tackle the problem with our rivers in order to clean up our oceans.
Did you know that just 14% of rivers nationally are achieving “Good” ecological health, and every single one fails to meet chemical standards. That figure has not changed since 2009, despite government promises that by 2027 75% of English rivers would be rated good!
From source to sea, our rivers are under continuous pressure from mankind. Our watercourses are impacted by agriculture, effluent from water companies and privately owned sewage systems, abstraction, and urbanisation. Around 80% of the plastic in our oceans come from land-based sources that enter the system through networks of rivers, streams and ditches. These pressures will not go away and will increase as populations of local towns and cities increase.
These pressures must be recognised and the need to improve our rivers by collaborative working at a catchment scale is crucial if we are to reverse the current trend. We need to start working with natural solutions to tackle the many challenges our rivers face to create a healthy and resilient river and catchment. If we work with nature and reinstate natural processes, nature will thrive and communities can access and enjoy safe, clean water, both now and in the future…
We must wake up to this fact and act now so that we save our most important resource on the planet! Failure of nature’s recovery, for the next generation, ourselves, our health, our well-being. We can’t afford NOT to do it.
How you can help protect your rivers and seas…
There are many small changes we all can make in our day to day lives which can benefit our local rivers and sea and the wildlife that depends on them.
We can all do our bit in protecting our oceans and this starts with our everyday actions:
- Remember only flush the three P’s (pee, poo & (toilet) paper) – what you pour down the drain ends up in our rivers and sea! So, think before you flush!
- Use water wisely! Wash less – only use washing machines and dishwashers when you have a full load. And turn the tap off whilst brushing your teeth.
- Check your home for misconnections. Sinks, baths, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers should connect into the foul drain. Find out more at www.connectright.org.uk
- Choose eco-friendly laundry and cleaning products when washing your clothes and your dishes. Phosphates are a common ingredient in household cleaning products, but they pollute our rivers and act as fertilisers, increasing weed growth. Switch to phosphate-free brands instead.
- Don’t drop litter or fly tip! Rubbish, no matter how small, can harm wildlife and cause blockages which can lead to flooding. Be sure to bin it every time.
- Check your septic tank & make sure it is working properly. If you’ve got one, make sure it’s working properly, isn’t leaking, and is emptied once a year to stop phosphates seeping into the ground.
- Don’t pour paint, chemicals, or oils down the drain. Many of our drains lead directly into our rivers. Take them to your local household waste recycling centre.
- If you see any signs of pollution, contact the Environment Agency. If you see dead fish floating, discoloured or smelly water, contact the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
It will take all of us working together to have healthy rivers – this is our river and our responsibility.
The Rivers Trust “movement” and its role in protecting our rivers and seas…
eNGO’s are playing a significant role in raising awareness of the issues facing our natural world. The Rivers Trust is one of those, which alongside a number of others including Surfers Against Sewage, have raised the profile of the poor health of our water environments in both the media and our governments agenda in recent months. The Trust helped to deliver a petition to Parliament calling for an end to sewage pollution and asked you write to your MPs to demand better for rivers.
The Rivers Trust are the umbrella organisation for our 63 member Rivers Trusts in the UK and Ireland. They work with member trusts to make our shared vision a reality: wild, healthy, natural rivers, valued by all. Despite the difficulties experienced by us all during 2020 – the year of cancelled events and delayed projects, across the country the movement delivered the following outcomes to our rivers:
I’m incredibly proud to be part of the Rivers Trust family and as the CEO of Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART), I am fully aware of the challenges that we currently face, and at BART, our small, dedicated team delivers a tremendous amount of work including education, land and river management advice and practical river restoration work throughout the Bristol Avon catchment. Our project work aims to conserve and enhance the status of our waterbodies for current and future generations whilst re-connecting communities to their local rivers and help them to better appreciate and improve them for the benefit of people and wildlife. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle!
Become a citizen scientist with your local Rivers Trust!
Image credit: Bristol Avon Rivers Trust website
If you fancy taking a more active role in helping to protect your rivers and seas, then you may wish to volunteer for your local Rivers Trust?
From tree planting, litter picks to river restoration there are lots of ways you can get involved. At Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) we also deliver an annual WaterBlitz event where we call upon as many volunteers as possible to help us collect water samples across the catchment. The event gives a snapshot of water quality in the rivers and streams across the catchment. The results from the WaterBlitz project help us target areas and influence future conservation projects and contribute to a global water quality database which assesses the quality of freshwater ecosystems all over the world.
The event is run in partnership with FreshWater Watch, a global programme developed by the environmental NGO, Earthwatch, who coordinate WaterBlitz events around the world. If you’d like to take part in next year’s event you can find out further information here: https://bristolavonriverstrust.org/waterblitz/
If you or your business fancy getting involved with our wider project work or wish to be one of our “eyes and ears” on the ground, then check out the “Get involved” tab on BART’s website for further information.
Image credit: Bristol Avon Rivers Trust website
If you live outside of our catchment area but wish to find out further information about your local Rivers Trust, you can find a map here: https://www.theriverstrust.org/about-us/member-trusts.
Thank you to CircleOne for providing me the platform to engage with you all. As an avid ocean lover, surfer and river restorer, I hope that I have inspired you to play your part in natures recovery. If you want to find out more, please feel free to drop me a message on Instagram.
For further information about where the sewerage network discharges and overflows into rivers check out the Rivers Trust link below. Be warned: you might not like what you discover! https://www.theriverstrust.org/key-issues/sewage-in-rivers