Practical Steps to Protect Norfolk’s Waterways

From the north Norfolk coastline to the Broads National Park, Norfolk is home to some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches and waterways – making it both an idyllic place to live and a popular tourist hotspot. According to Visit Norfolk, the county’s tourist board, there were 3,266,000 staying trips to Norfolk in 2017, with the total number of day visitors estimated at 43,443,000.

With so many people visiting Norfolk on an annual basis, it places a lot of pressure on the county’s sewer systems. More than this, however, it highlights the importance of looking after the water that makes the region such an attractive place for residents and visitors alike. Norfolk’s canals, rivers and coastal areas are also home to a wide array of wildlife – from grey seals to rare bird species – which need access to clean, safe water.

Whether you’re a homeowner, business owner or holidaymaker, there are plenty of things you can do to preserve Norfolk’s beaches and waterways and keep wildlife safe from harm.

Watch What You’re Flushing

It can be easy to flush something down the toilet without considering whether it can be flushed, or where it will end up. However, the next time you use a wet wipe or other sanitary product, think before flushing it, and make sure you dispose of it in the appropriate bin. Even wet wipes that are labelled ‘flushable’ can lead to major issues in sewers, most notably fatbergs. These are created when wet wipes combine with fats, oils and grease to form a solid mass, which can be incredibly difficult to break down.

Thousands of wet wipes also end up on beaches or river banks, causing a threat to wildlife. According to environmental campaign group City to Sea, there has been a 400% increase in the number of used wipes found on beaches in the past year. And in 2018, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) reported an average of 12 wipes per 100 metres of coastline.

Given the number of beaches and waterways in Norfolk, it really does pay to be conscious of the products you are using, and how they’re being disposed of. Look out for wet wipes that carry the new ‘Fine to Flush’ logo and will break down naturally in sewers, or consider ways you could reduce your consumption of single-use plastics.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

When you have a blocked drain, the first temptation might be to purchase a bottle of drain unblocker from your local supermarket. However, a lot of these products only offer a short-term fix and contain chemicals that could cause further damage to your drains, costing you even more money. These chemicals may also find their way into the sea and local waterways, leading to water pollution and potentially causing serious harm to wildlife.

Instead of resorting to a chemical cleaner, try pouring some boiling water down your sink to loosen the blockage, follow this with a combination of baking soda and lemon water, and then rinse with another lot of boiling water. Alternatively, you could try using a plunger or unscrewing your U-Bend, but if the blockage is particularly stubborn, you will probably need to contact a professional plumber.

Upgrade Your Septic Tank

If you have a septic tank that discharges water directly into a local watercourse, now is the time to upgrade to a sewage treatment plant, or alternatively install a drainage field or soakaway system. Not only will this ensure you’re not releasing any toxic waste into local waterways – which could eventually end up in the sea – but from 1 January 2020, it will also save you from a hefty fine.

Since the passing of new regulations in 2015, businesses and property owners in the East and England have been prevented from installing septic tanks that discharge directly into a watercourse. However, anyone whose whose septic tank predates 1 January 2015 will need to ensure it is upgraded or connected to a mains sewer by 1 January 2020 – or sooner if there is evidence that your tank is causing water pollution. There are additional rules for anyone who installed a new treatment system on or after 1 January 2015.

Join or Create a Clean-Up Event

As well as doing your bit to prevent water pollution in Norfolk, there are a number of ways you can proactively address the problem. Beach clean events are regularly held along the north Norfolk coast, details of which can be found on the Norfolk Coast Partnership website. You may also consider volunteering for Anglia Water’s long-established RiverCare and BeachCare initiatives, which are run in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy.

Alternatively, why not organise a beach clean yourself, or dedicate some of your own time to removing plastic and other waste from beaches and local waterways. If you own a kayak or canoe, you could even try to emulate the efforts of a teenager from Wroxham, who spent last summer clearing 100 miles of water in the Norfolk Broads.

At Anglia Drain Doctor, we are committed to protecting the beaches and waterways of Norfolk. If you need a hand replacing your septic tank or clearing a nasty drain blockage, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today. We are available 24/7 for any plumbing and drainage emergency.

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