Thursday, November 26, 2009

Water saving leaflet from RBAG

Here below is our public information leaflet about saving water - it has been sent to a number of local Parish newsletters and other local press.

Water resources are under pressure: save water, save energy.

About one third of the water each person uses on a daily basis is wasted – it runs straight down the plughole. We must cut that waste.

Already, despite a seemingly wet climate, almost 25 million Britons live in areas where there is less available water per person than in Spain or Morocco. The South East of England has less water available per person than Sudan and Syria. Many of our rivers already have reduced flows and climate change forecasts suggest the amount of water available will be reduced even further during the summer. It is also likely to lead to more flooding events and it is worth noting that water saving reduces flooding.

The average Briton uses 148 litres (260 pints) of water every day. However there is also a hidden aspect to our water use, in the manufacturing of the goods we buy and the crops we eat. It takes for example 1,000 litres to grow a kilo of wheat or two kilos of potatoes and a massive 24,000 litres for a kilo of beef. We could in effect each be consuming indirectly around 1.5 to 2 million litres per year!

Transporting, heating and treating water accounts for over 6% of the UK's carbon footprint. Using less water means we cut the energy needed to treat it and we reduce our impact on the environment. It is vital we start to look at managing our water better in our manufacturing and agricultural uses but also at home.

Some water saving tips from the Ruscombe Brook Action Group

Get a 'hippo'! The Hippo reduces the amount of water in your toilet cistern by up to 30%! Alternatively place a plastic bottle in your toilet's cistern. Flushing the loo uses a third of our mains water! Take care your hippo doesn't lead to extra flushing as some cisterns are already designed to reduce flows.

Fix that drip! A dripping tap can waste up to 4 litres of water a day. Replace worn washers or fit a more efficient tap.

Spray more! Spray head taps can reduce consumption by up to 70%.

Recycle! Wash fruit and veg in a bowl rather than under the tap; then use the water for watering plants!

Sprinkle less! Sprinklers use the same amount of water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day! Install a trickle system instead which works from a water butt.

Get an Eco Showerhead! 60% of the world's hot water is for showering: NordicEco, Mira Eco or EcoCamel showerheads all massively cut water use and pay for themselves in weeks.

Reduce paving and concrete! This stops run off water

Count every drop! Support widespread water metering. If applied to all households we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to more than 27 times the total UK Carbon Reduction Commitment target.

Ruscombe Brook Action Group encourages responsible water use and seeks a water management strategy in the Stroud area that will properly protect us from floods and drought. We strive for improved wildlife habitats and water quality in our streams and rivers, an end to sewage leaks and a joined up approach to water that includes changes to planning, farming and house building. Call Philip Booth on 01453 755451 or Jo Bottrill on 01453 750063 for more details.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Revisioning RBAG!

Last week we had our monthly Ruscombe Brook Action Group meeting. After some discussion about what are priorities are we agreed the following:

Photo: Puckshole - photo from a year ago when we cleaned it out - see here - now needing attention again!

1. Works at Puckshole (phases I, II and III) - phase one is going ahead (see below) - phase two is tackling a water pipe that is damaging the brook and up for discussion in January. Phase three looking further at attenuation is on hold at the moment.

2. Severn Trent sewer works. A lengthy discussion on the huge progress since our first meeting some 4 years ago - we drafted a letter to seek an update on their plans as we have still seen little evidence of capital works going ahead.

3. Wider community involvement in the group and the brook - like involving schools again - our latest project is our water saving tips list which is ready to go out.

4. The Ruscombe Brook water standard - this is on hold.

5. Wider catchment issues and the Stroud Valleys Water Forum - we fed back from the recent Water Forum group - see details of the meeting before that here.

Puckshole drama

For those who don't know for some years we have sought measures to reduce the flooding at Puckshole. The flooding continues to damage the road and in the past has flooded cars and cut off a small group of houses. We were delighted to get some funds from Stroud District Council to clear the culvert and put in a grill as part of our initial efforts. Then a couple of weeks ago the contractor got on site and found part of the culvert collapsed - the work was stopped and no funds available to restart.

Philip Booth contacted various people and others also wrote and we are now delighted to learn that the District has managed to locate another source of funding to enable the culvert under the access road to be replaced - and the headwall/screen can be constructed as originally intended. A start date possibly even this month - well done to Stroud District for coming up trumps on this one.

It should be noted that in funding the replacement culvert, the Council is not accepting any riparian responsibilities for ownership or maintenance of the culvert in the future as it is seen that this should lie with the owners of the access track. All this sounds so simple but behind the scenes it has meant yet more talks with the Environment Agency, the contractors, residents and lots more.

On a positive note, the culvert has already been carefully cleaned by "365 Environmental Ltd" and a CCTV record made of the culvert condition. The survey shows the "oil drum" culvert through the builders yard to be intact and of a good circular shape. Flow through this section is also good. The survey did show that there were two sections where the metal drum had rusted and fallen away from the concrete surround, but the concrete left behind is still supporting itself.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Water quality of rivers needs improving

Letter to the press:

The Citizen reports that water quality in Gloucestershire's rivers is' better than ever' (24/09/09). Indeed the improvements are to be welcomed, but they are far too small. In the South West only 33% of rivers, lakes and coastal waters achieved ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status under the new and more stringent Water Framework Directive (i). This compares with an average figure of 26% for England and Wales.

Looking closer at the report, we see that the Environment Agency found only 5 out of 6114 rivers it surveyed in the UK, are pristine. None of the five are in the South West. 117 rivers are ranked on a par with the dirtiest rivers in eastern Europe, a further 742 are considered to be in "poor condition" and 3,654, (or 60%), are in only "moderate" condition.

Incredibly there are still 100,000 Environment Agency discharge consents for pathogenic waste in England and Wales plus over 25,000 storm overflows. Raw sewage is still getting into our waterways. and we have no microbial standards for watercourses in this country. This needs action. We also urgently need to reduce pollution from farming.

The Government is committed to meet the target of 95% of rivers meeting agreed European “good” or “very good” standards by 2015. It will have its work cut out to achieve this. Without serious investment we are storing up problems for the future and will see a return of the court cases and fines of the early 1980s, when Britain was labelled "the dirty man of Europe".

Philip Booth, Ruscombe Brook Action Group,

(i) See report:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Report on Ruscombe Brook Action Group AGM 2009

Philip Booth reports on AGM - a more detailed report with more photos can be found at his blog here.

The Ruscombe Brook Action Group (RBAG) formed in January 2005 to end the flooding at Puckshole and the repeated incidents of sewage getting into the Ruscombe brook. Since then the group has met monthly and learnt lots about water, sewage, biodiversity and more. We've worked with various agencies and seen some significant improvements: sewage pipes replaced, roots cut from inside pipes and a plan for further work.

Photo: Water For Life exhibition at RBAG AGM

We've also organised three seminars and held other public meetings, met with agencies to see improvements at The Lawns and Hamwell Leaze, initiated projects with University students and school children to look at water quality, produced information leaflets and much more.

At our AGM in Randwick Village Hall, Chair, Zarin Hainsworth (pictured left with her daughter), outlined work this year. It included a walk along the 2 mile brook to identify problems, one day digging out silt from near a culvert and one day removing a vast amount of rubbish including two sofas, a tent, waste bins and of course a shopping trolley. Apart from work to improve the sewage system we are also delighted to have finally got agreement and funding for a grill and clearing out of the culvert at Puckshole. This initial measure will reduce flooding of the lane but there are further improvements planned for the site. We're also producing information on how to reduce our water use.

Another exciting development this year is Stroud Valleys Water Forum that RBAG helped set up with the four other water action groups in the area. We are together seeking a water management strategy in the Stroud area that will give greater protection from floods and drought.

At the AGM after Officers reports and elections, we heard from Adam Broadhead and Julian Jones from Water 21. They talked about how Stroud Valleys’ complex hydrogeology has been disrupted by artificial modification, urbanisation and intensification of agriculture. Infiltration zones such as fields and woodlands have been covered with paved, impermeable surfaces. We also heard about specific problems at Brigend and what solutions might be possible, the work in the Slad Valley and more. The evening concluded with a DVD preview of work in Australia around soils and water. We are now looking forward to another year of improvements along the brook.

Monday, August 24, 2009

RBAG takes direct action

Here's the press release Jo sent out after the successful clear-up a week ago - more of the rubbish can be viewed by clicking here.

Members of the Ruscombe Brook Action Group (RBAG) got their hands dirty today and cleaned up a section of the brook below Ruscombe village.

Twelve volunteers turned out to clear litter as well as larger items including two sofas, a large yellow dustbin and the remains of an old tent. Works to prevent erosion to the banks of the brook were commenced. Stroud District Council supported the clean up by providing equipment and disposing of the large pile of rubbish.

Jo Bottrill, treasurer of RBAG commented, "It's fantastic that we've had such a positive turn out today. Clearing these items from the brook make it a more attractive place for people to visit as well as helping to prevent flooding further downstream. The brook is an important corridor for wildlife and removing this rubbish helps make it a more valuable habitat."

The group is working with several local partners to find schemes that will prevent flooding; improve water quality and encourage wildlife. The group's AGM is scheduled for Tuesday 15th September at Randwick Village Hall.