Pollution of Watercourses
This section describes how to report river pollution incidents
and the limited role of South Lakeland District Council towards
investigation of sewage pollution of streams and rivers.
The responsibility for the impact of pollution on streams and
rivers rests with those who cause it. In the case of pollution
being caused by sewers and drains, the property owners using the
defective pipe are normally responsible for its maintenance.
Further information on the ownership of sewers and drains can be
found in our Building Drainage
What should I do if I suspect that a stream, river or the sea
is polluted by sewage?
If you suspect that
sewage, or other pollutants, are being discharged into a
watercourse or into the sea it is important that you report your
concerns as soon as possible to the Environment
Agency Emergency Hotline
on 0800 80 70 60. This is available 24
hours a day, 7 days a week. They may be able to investigate the
problem and minimise the impact on the environment.
What could be causing sewage to pollute a stream or river?
The most common causes of river pollution from domestic drainage
systems are caused by :
- Drain blockages, causing sewage to overflow into streams and
- Overloading of the drainage system during storm
- causing diluted sewage to overflow into streams and
- Unsatisfactory septic tank systems, causing poorly treated
sewage to flood onto land or drain directly into watercourses,
- Kitchen or washing machine outlets being connected into drains
which also collect roof or surface water, and which eventually
drain into a nearby stream,
- Toilets and other sanitary apparatus being connected to pipes
which do not drain to the foul drainage system.
How can I be sure that my own home, or a neighbouring property,
is not polluting a stream or river?
If you think that the drains serving your own home, or a
neighbouring property, may be blocked or defective please follow
the advice in our Building Drainage
A nearby stream has been polluted for several years but nothing
seems to be done. Why?
Investigation into the causes of pollution to streams and
rivers, from defective or wrongly connected drainage systems, is a
role that falls to both the Environment Agency and South Lakeland
South Lakeland District Council, Environmental Health
Department work in partnership with officers from the Environment
Agency to investigate the causes of many ongoing sewage
Despite this joint working it may take months of site
investigation work to locate the sources of pollution, which has an
impact on how swiftly a watercourse can be ‘cleaned up’.
Investigations are currently scheduled, or underway, for
pollution of streams in the following areas:
- Miller Field, Ambleside
- Rayrigg Road, Bowness
- The Strand, Milnthorpe
- Mintsfeet Industrial Estate, Kendal
- Lowther Street, Kendal
- Hallgarth, Kendal
If you are aware of other streams that are affected by sewage
pollution you may wish to contact an officer from the Environmental
on 0845 050 4434 who can advise you