A recent clean up of the River Wandle organised by the Environment Agency uncovered a mountain of junk more suited to a car boot sale.  

Household items such as bikes, chairs, toys, a hoover, carpet and mattresses were just some of the items pulled out of the River Wandle on Tuesday 9 September. The clean up, which was done in conjunction with The Wandle Trust and Thames 21, also yielded a traffic cone, shopping trolley, batteries, bottles and cans.  

The clean up was done as part of a project to improve the River Wandle, a unique South London chalk stream which flows north from Croydon and Carshalton, joining the Thames at Wandsworth in London.   

In Victorian times, the River Wandle was extremely important for local industry and supported 90 mills by providing water.  In the Sixties, however, it had become so polluted that it was declared a sewer.  

Now the river is being restored to its former health, with clean ups taking place through the Wandle Trust on the second Sunday of every month.  Along with removing rubbish, charity staff aim to improve the water for birds, fish and the local population.   

Thames 21 representative Chris Coode said: “Thames21 were delighted to work with Environment Agency staff at the clean-up on the Wandle River. We’re very grateful for the valuable contribution made by the team.” 

Environment Agency Officer Mike Denbigh said: “By working side by side with local groups we hope to show local communities just how much they can benefit from having a thriving unpolluted river on their doorstep. Throwing rubbish into the river has far reaching environmental impact. Not only is it illegal, but it can also harm fish and other river life, and even increase flood risk for that area should the rubbish block the channel. 

The Environment Agency has an ongoing programme of work to remove this rubbish which can cause blockages and increase flood risk, but prevention is always the best cure.” 

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Wandle Trust should call 0845 092 0110.    Members of the public can report environmental incidents on the Environment Agency’s incident hotline – 0800 80 70 60.

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