The WatersideCare project helps to support voluntary and community groups to look after their local waterway, keeping it clean and healthy for people and wildlife.

To help support volunteers, we provide a wide range of resources to WatersideCare groups, including:

Welcome to WatersideCare

An introduction to WatersideCare is given to all groups who sign the agreement and provides volunteers with information on a variety of WatersideCare activities and campaigns such as Connect Right and Yellow Fish as well as helpful tips on keeping safe on waterways.

Equipment

Groups need tools such as litter pickers, bag-hoops, gloves, wellies and bin bags to keep waterways clean, but they can also be supplied with grappling hooks, secateurs, loppers, saws and hi-viz vests to ensure people recognise them as volunteers and advertise the group effectively. 

Habitat Management Handbook

Many groups need help with looking after a waterway, including advice on what is a healthy brook or stream, and what should and should not be in the watercourse to make it suitable for wildlife. WatersideCare has produced a simple and easy to read Habitat Management Handbook guide for groups to use in making their waterway healthy.

With additional support from the Environment Agency we have been able to provide a new and individual guide for ten groups which is designed just for their waterway and helps them to follow a five year plan to improve the habitat in their stream or brook. With further funding we hope to provide more of these Habitat Management Plans. 

Connect Right 

People are not always aware that if the plumbing in their house is wrongly connected, the dirty water from their washing machine, dishwasher, sink and even toilet could be going straight into nearby streams and rivers. Identifying and fixing the problem of misconnections will help the environment, prevent health risks, reduce flooding and avoid penalty charges. WatersideCare groups can help by checking the colour of water from discharge points and reporting misconnections to Severn Trent Water.

For more information and guidance on misconnections visit www.connectright.org.uk.

 

Freshwater Invertebrate Network (FIN) 

The Freshwater Invertebrate Network (FIN) is run by EcoRecord and aims to establish a biological monitoring programme, run by local people on a voluntary basis, to continually assess the health of water bodies in targeted areas of Birmingham and the Black Country. 

Volunteers are trained by a local expert to use existing monitoring techniques and standards; for example three minute kick samples, identifying and recording a range of invertebrates that are water quality indicators appropriate to Birmingham and the Black Country.

WatersideCare works closely with FIN and many groups have had surveys carried out on their waterway with help from both programmes. However, there is a cost to each survey, so it is advisable to discuss your needs with a WatersideCare Project Officer at an early stage.

More information can be found on their website www.yourstream.org.uk

For areas outside Birmingham and the Black Country, there is Riverfly Conservation. More details at www.riverflies.org/conservation

Invasive Non-Native Species

When the Ice Age ended over 10,000 years ago, the ice that covered most of Britain retreated northwards. Following behind this retreating ice was waves of plants and animals that slowly colonised Britain as conditions warmed up. These plants and animals got to Britain as there will still a connection attaching us to mainland Europe.

However, as the ice melted, sea levels rose and the connection flooded. This effectively stopped any more colonisation by species that couldn't cross the water. All the plants and animals that established themselves in Britain naturally are called native species. 

Some species, like elk and lemmings, died out naturally as the climate continued to warm up but other species such as wolves and beavers were eradicated by humans only relatively recently, in the last few hundred years.

Humans first arrived in Britain about 8000 years ago and virtually all new land animals and plants that have become established since this date have been brought here by us. These are all non-native species. 

However, we must not think that all non-native species are bad - it is only a minority that has serious negative impacts on our native British species, our health or our economy. These species we call invasive non-native species. 

WatersideCare helps groups to recognise these invasive non-native plants and animals and help them to know what to do. Waterways commonly have Himalayan Balsam, Floating Pennywort and Japanese Knotweed growing on the banks, as well as non-native crayfish in the water. Advice should be sought from your WatersideCare Project Officer before you decide what your group should be doing to tackle any invasive non-native species. 

The Non-Native Species Secretariat has a strategy for managing this threat, visit www.nonnativespecies.org.uk for more details. 

Water Framework Directive

Better known as WFD, this brings together various pieces of legislation to try and deliver better water environments for nature and people. To help achieve this goal, River Basin Management Plans have been developed to signpost where improvements in the quality of waterbodies are needed. All types of waterbody are included (rivers, canals, groundwaters) and we all have a part to play in improving them. 

More information on the current state of your local waters can be found here www.environment.data.gov.uk 

You can find out more about the work that is being undertaken to improve your local waterbodies by contacting your local Catchment Partnership here.

Supporting WatersideCare

There are four main organisations that developed WatersideCare as a project by providing funding, advice and support. Each is represented on the Steering Group which meets monthly to review progress.

Environment Agency

The largest environmental organisation in England, who are responsible for reducing the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea, and for protecting and improving the environment. The EA are an independent agency reporting to the UK government, with responsibilities defined by law.

Visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Severn Trent Water

Severn Trent Water is a private company that provides services to 4.3 million homes and businesses across the Midlands. The company is keen to reduce pollution and misconnections whilst trying to improve the quality of the water supply to homes. 

For more details visit www.stwater.co.uk

Canal and River Trust

The Canal and River Trust (C&RT) owns and manages 2000 miles of rivers and canals across England and Wales and is divided into regions. Many WatersideCare groups are active on C&RT managed waterways and have adopted these areas, working closely with their officers and volunteering on schemes to support the canals and rivers.

For more information on Canal and River Trust visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

Keep Britain Tidy 

Keep Britain Tidy is a national environmental charity and employs three Project Officers on the WatersideCare programme, coordinates the activities across the Midlands and maintains this website.

Keep Britain Tidy also manages similar schemes in Cornwall (BeachCare), the North West of England (LoveMyBeach) and in East Anglia (RiverCare).