Efforts to improve water quality in Cramlington burn

04 September 2015

The Environment Agency is working with partners and local residents to improve water quality in a Northumberland burn.

The Horton Burn at Cramlington has suffered a number of pollution incidents and the Environment Agency has been working with partners, including Northumbrian Water, to identify the causes and find solutions.

The main impact appears to be the spilling and leaking of oils and chemicals from nearby industrial estates.

Neil Paisley, from the Environment Agency’s Environmental Management team, said: “We work with Northumbrian Water to investigate reports of pollution in the burn and try to find the source, which can be difficult as there are 17km of surface water sewer running through the industrial estates.

“In addition pollution incidents can often be short lived or may have been sitting in the sewer for a number of days.

“We’ve been placing tracers in sewers to try to identify sources of pollution, have delivered pollution prevention leaflets to businesses on the estates and we’ve carried out visits to estate landlords to encourage them to educate their tenants on the impact of spillages.”

Other issues in the burn can be associated with nearby residential areas, which are served by separate foul and surface water systems, and any liquid poured down road drains could ultimately find its way into the burn. One recent pollution incident is believed to have been caused by a resident pouring a paint-like substance down a surface water drain.

And there are also some issues with cross-connections, which is when household appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and sinks are mistakenly connected to the surface water drainage system – which often happens when extensions are built.

Neil added: “It’s important to ensure that you or your builder makes the right connection to the foul sewer and that you are cautious when pouring anything down the road drains.

“We’re working closely with our partners and residents in the area to find longer-term solutions to pollution incidents at Horton Burn and would encourage people to get in touch with us with information.”

Mike Madine, Northumbrian Water’s Sewerage & New Development Manager, said: “We’re committed to protecting the environment and this initiative will encourage our customers to help us look after the water courses in their local community.

“We appreciate that wrong connections may have been made many years ago and property owners may not be aware. They could also have happened accidentally or been made in ignorance or by carelessness when extensions or house alterations were built.

“Everyone can play a part in protecting our environment by checking connections are correct.”

It’s important if you see pollution in the Horton Burn to contact the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.

For media enquiries contact the press office on 0113 819 6800. Out of hours call 07557 801352 and ask for the duty press officer. www.gov.uk/environment-agency. @EnvAgencyYNE.

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