Rivers and streams are one of our most important resources, sustaining human life and supporting a diversity of habitats and species. There are 95 watercourses in Somerset (Somerset Rivers, 2020) and around 75 pollution incidents were reported to Wessex Water last year (2019) within the Somerset region which were either Category 3 (minor) or 4 (no impact).
These pollutions predominantly happen due to point source pollution (a specific source) or non-point source/diffuse pollution (widely spread, cannot be tied to a specific point of origin). For example, the main causes are hydraulic overload in the sewer system due to heavy or increased rainfall, burst rising mains and blockages mainly caused by wet wipes/rags and run-off from farmland, construction sites and so on.
Therefore, in order to proactively monitor waterways and report pollution incidents while increasing community engagement and partnership working with the environmental sector, the Wessex Water Guardians community project was established.