Volunteer for Outfall Safaris on the Ravensbourne

Do you want to help identify where misconnected drains are polluting rivers?

Thames21, under the guidance of the Zoological Society of London, is offering the public the chance to get involved in “Outfall Safari” citizen science work on the Ravensbourne catchment and on the Ingrebourne River.

This is the first time Outfall Safaris will have been run in these areas and follows recent training on the River Pinn – another first for the programme. 

Our training for the Ingrebourne river will be held at the Ingrebourne Valley Visitor Centre, Hornchurch on Monday September 18 from 10am to 12.30pm.

The Ravensbourne training will be on Wednesday September 27, 2017, from 10am-12 noon at the Lewisham Arts Café in Manor Park. 

The trainer for the programme is Joe Pecorelli of ZSL, who wrote a blog for Thames21 about Outfall Safaris earlier this year. 

Following Thames21’s successful first year running the riverfly monitoring scheme on the Ravensbourne Catchment, joining our outfall safaris offers you another opportunity to help identify pollution hotspots and raise public awareness around drainage misconnections that can harm our rivers.

All London’s rivers can be polluted by chemicals from detergents and by sewage, due to misconnected plumbing. 

Pipes that lead into surface water drains, rather than into sewers, bring these pollutants into our rivers.

While Thames Water and the Environment Agency monitor the river catchment and respond to pollution incidents, it is very hard to create a detailed map of all the troublesome outfalls that have, so far, remained under the radar. An Outfall Safari is the answer. 

Designed to be undertaken by local volunteers, an Outfall Safari requires no expertise beyond simple data collection, which is covered in the bespoke training in September, and keenness to take walks alongside our rivers (and occasionally in them). 

Learn how to check rivers for pollution 

This is a short-term commitment: once volunteers have been trained, they will be expected to go out on outfall safaris for a period of around one month (October 2017 in both areas). It relies on lots of small teams of volunteers each doing as much or as little as they want.  

One team member will record the observations of the group using a simple mobile app and the uploaded data collected by all the teams will create a detailed picture of the current state of the catchment.

Data from the app is mapped and passed on the Environment Agency and Thames Water.  And any severe pollution revealed can be investigated immediately by these agencies.  It is a proven method of checking on London’s rivers, already tested on the rivers Crane, Hogsmill and Dollis Brook.

For more details and to register for the Ingrebourne training please contact Emma Harrington, the Thames21 development manager, via email at emma.Harrington@thames21.org.uk.

For the Ravensbourne, our catchment partnership co-ordinator, Lawrence Beale Collins, is happy to answer any questions and to speak informally to local groups. 

To register your interest in taking part email Ravensbournermi@gmail.com or telephone Lawrence Beale Collins on 07986 237431.

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