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Green Match Funding will DOUBLE your donation! Help us raise £10,000 for the Essex RiverWatch

  • In 2023 only 6 out of 91 stretches of river in Essex were classified as being in good ecological quality, the rest are moderate or poor.
  • Essex rivers are affected by pollution and litter and have lost much of their habitat through being modified for human use (drainage or navigation).
  • A survey by Essex County Council of Essex Residents in 2023 showed that river pollution was the top environmental concern out of sixteen environmental categories.

In response to the scale of the issues affecting rivers and public concern, the Essex Rivers Hub partnership is launching a fundraising campaign for a new citizen science project called the Essex RiverWatch. This campaign aims to support a roll-out of a project engaging local communities in monitoring their local river’s health.

To secure long-term funding for the Essex riverWatch, Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust (ESRT) is participating in the Big Give Green Match Fund campaign. From April 18th to midday on April 25th, ESRT and partners of the Essex Rivers Hub will be rallying support to raise £10,000 for the project. Every donation made during this period will be matched, doubling the impact of contributions.

“The Big Give fundraising campaign launching on 18th April will help us promote citizen science across rivers in Essex. With the support of dedicated volunteers, we can collect valuable data that will direct efforts to help our rivers recover. Our rivers are essential to life and we can all help to look after them” –  Dr. Helen Dangerfield, Director at ESRT

Volunteers who take part in the Essex RiverWatch when it launches later this year will receive hands-on training and equipment to get local groups started.

“The more we understand about the health and quality of Essex’s rivers, the more we can do to conserve these vital habitats. With your help, the Essex RiverWatch will be able to give people the training they need to collect more data about our rivers. By donating this April, you can help us restore river health – for wildlife and people” – Darren Tansley, Wilder Rivers & Protected Species Manager at Essex Wildlife Trust.

How can you get involved?

  • Visit our campaign page and make a donation from 18th April 2024. The campaign will close midday on 25th April 2024.
  • To learn more about the Essex RiverWatch campaign, please click here.

Get Involved Today

Find out about the latest volunteer opportunities and explore our hub of resources.

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The topics below represent the pressures that many waterbodies in the Combined Essex catchment face. They have been divided into six main categories, but it is quite often that these categories can overlap as pressures relate to each other.

Diffuse pollution occurs as water moves across the land or through the ground and picks pollutants. These pollutants can come from a variety of places, including urban and field run off. The pollutants that enter the river can range from sediment to toxins to excess nutrients, meaning that diffuse pollution can cause a whole range of different issues. The variety in these pressure groups means that it is something that can be quite difficult to tackle. It requires groups of people, business and stakeholders to work together in order to solve this problem.

Fish should be able to travel up and down a river freely, allowing them to move and breed in the most suitable habitats for them. It is important that fish populations do not become isolated, as this makes them more susceptible to disease and puts pressure on their survival. Unfortunately, there are often many barriers along rivers that prevent fish from being able to migrate up and down stream. Where barriers have been identified, they will be seen as a ‘pressure’ on a waterbody. Thankfully, there are many solutions now that can be put in place to aid fish passage, even over large barriers.

The flow in a river can vary greatly throughout the year as rainfall and run off can have an effect. This is a natural process. It is when flow is impacted by non-natural processes that it can cause problems. Sometimes, water can be intercepted or removed from a system; this will reduce the flow, therefore changing the habitat conditions. Some species are happy in high energy rivers. This means that when flow is reduced, these species will no longer survive. The opposite of this can occur when excess water is entering a river, for example through increased runoff. Low energy systems then become high energy and displace the species that live there.

A species that is not meant to be found in a particular area is known as an invasive species. Invasive species can be from a different habitat or a different country altogether. Most of the invasive species that we find on our rivers have come from other countries – plants that people have imported for their gardens or animals that have been released for food or by animal rights activists. Control of invasive species requires a lot of time and effort. We are fortunate that we do have a range of methods to manage most of the invasive species that cause havoc on our rivers, but there are still some which we are still struggling to control.

Many of our rivers have been heavily modified over the years as rivers have been used for a wide range of purposes. Physical modification is one of the biggest factors that causes our rivers to be unhealthy. The issues that it can cause range from reducing habitat, preventing migration of mobile species, and even have an effect on the water quality. Where structures and modifications are no longer in use or necessary, they should be removed to allow the river to regain its natural state. Unfortunately, this action is not always taken which means that many of our rivers are over straightened and contain redundant structures. It is possible to return a lot of our rivers to their natural state, through one off projects, but in other cases it is not possible as the river has been changed to protect assets or manage flooding. It is recognised that some modifications cannot be removed without having severe negative impacts both socially and economically.

This is pollution that comes from a single identifiable source. The pollution entering the river could include a whole range of pollutants. Some point source pollution is known about and licences, for example sewage treatment works. Other sources are not licensed, and therefore work needs to be done with landowners to fix the problems that are allowing the pollution to enter the river. Point source pollution is more easily controlled than diffuse pollution as it often only takes one management approach to solve the issue.