Water workers have helped to make a difference to a wildlife haven on their doorstep.
Nine employees from Northumbrian Water’s marketing team mucked in with a river clean-up and litter pick around Jesmond Dene this week (July 16).
The team gave up a total of 56 hours under the water company’s employee volunteering team, Just an hour, which encourages all employees to spend at least 15 hours of work time every year supporting local community and environmental projects.
The clear-up was particularly close to the marketing team’s heart as they manage Northumbrian Water’s Love your drain campaign. This campaign urges people of the North East to think about the environmental damage that can be caused from flushing disposable items such as wipes down toilets and sinks instead of putting them in a bin.
With the support of Newcastle City Council ranger, Michael Hancock, the team spent the day clearing more than 14 large bin bags of litter found on the river bank and surrounding area, including wipes, sanitary items, a nappy, underwear and even a belt.
Michael contacted the water company for help after seeing wildlife suffering as a result of litter on the river bank. Recently, a water rail bird was spotted at Jesmond Dene for only the second time in 100 years but its sighting was overshadowed by the need to protect it from sanitary debris found nearby.
Mr Hancock said: “The clean-up has really helped to improve the area. We regularly see branches and the river bank strewn with wet wipes and other debris that have been flushed down the toilet. It is not a pretty sight for the million visitors to Jesmond Dene each year, and a very unpleasant job for our volunteers who we rely on to clear litter from the river.”
Jennie Collingwood, marketing manager, said: “We developed the ‘Love your drain’ campaign after discovering that most people are unaware that items they regularly put down the toilet or sink instead of in a bin can result in flooding or pollution to their local neighbourhoods.
“The clean-up has proved very rewarding in more ways that one. It’s been a great teambuilding exercise, whilst helping one of our local communities, supporting our Love your drain campaign and protecting wildlife and children from unsightly litter that should have gone in a bin in the first place.”
Last year the water company spent £370,000 sending items from its 418 treatment works to landfill where ‘disposable’ items would have gone in the first place if they’d been put in the bin. These costs are ultimately passed on to the customer in their yearly bill.
Practical advice from campaign mascot Dwaine Pipe can be found at www.loveyourdrain.co.uk, on Twitter @loveyourdrain or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loveyourdwaine.
Since the ‘Just an hour’ scheme was launched in 2002, Northumbrian Water employees have spent more than 74,100 hours working on local community projects and improving the environment.
For further information please contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.