Case study:Litter Clear-Ups (Since 2004)

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Location: 52° 5' 27", -3° 4' 5"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Habitat and biodiversity, Water quality
Country England, Wales
Main contact forename Stephen
Main contact surname Marsh-Smith
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Wye & Usk Foundation
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Keep Wales Tidy, River Wye Preservation Trust
Parent multi-site project
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Project summary

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The Foundation carried out its first organised litter clearances in 2004 and 2005 when groups of volunteers and staff from WUF and Keep Wales Tidy were involved in several exercises on the upper reaches of both rivers. Analysis of origins of the litter collected from these first efforts was revealing - that a high percentage of the litter (up to 76%) was from agriculture, usually in the form of silage wrap, feed bags/buckets and baler twine. Further single site clear-ups were carried out over the next four or five years but in 2010, Tony Norman (one of WUF's Trustees), took on the considerable challenge of organising the first large-scale litter clean-up exercise with an ambitious goal of clearing the whole Lugg and Arrow catchment in 10 weeks. Starting in March 2011, Tony and 220 volunteers from conservation organisations, government bodies, NGOs, fishing clubs, canoe groups, local councils and others collected 671 sacks of litter and single items from the riverbanks. They also removed larger objects such as tyres, feed buckets, chairs, beds, a saddle and even a children's swimming pool and surf board. Powys County Council also removed 30 tons of rubbish from a Highways Agency depot on the banks of the Lugg in Presteigne, most of which would have eventually been washed downstream. They also took measures to prevent the site being used as a tip in the future. In all, over 100 miles of river was cleared.

Spurred on by this success, Tony then turned his attention to the upper Wye where he started a similar project in February 2012. Over 12 weeks, 123 volunteers, organised by Tony and WUF with support from Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) and the River Wye Preservation Trust (RWPT), removed litter from the river's source at Pumlumon (Plynlimon) downstream to Builth Wells and beyond, including the tributary streams. They collected 647 sacks of litter and larger items were removed from 103 miles of river and stream, including objects such as a car radiator, a lawnmower and a deep freeze. Even more worryingly, several drums containing agricultural and mechanical chemicals that damage the aquatic environment were also found. The collected litter was picked up and, where possible, recycled by Powys County Council.

Later in 2012, WUF, volunteers and Keep Wales Tidy got together with a group of canoeists to clean up the river Usk between Sennybridge and Brynich Lock, below Brecon.

From February to May 2013 Tony Norman and his volunteers braved the extremely harsh spring weather and took to the Wye between Builth and Hay, the Irfon, Ithon and other tributaries along the way. Again, support came from The Wye Preservation Trust and Keep Wales Tidy while Powys County Council picked up all the litter collected and, where possible, recycled it.

The litter clearing continued in 2014, despite the extreme wet conditions at the start of the year, on the Wye between Hay and Luggsmouth and the Monnow catchment, while various other areas of the catchments were revisited. In 2015 Tony and the volunteers will tackle the rest of the Wye, from Luggsbridge down to Chepstow.

So far, the totals are:

Over 900 miles of river bank cleared.... By over 800 volunteers spending nearly 4,000 hours.... Collecting over 3,000 sacks of litter and other items.... 61% of which were of agricultural origin in number, although nearer 90% in volume and weight.

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Catchment and subcatchment


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Heavily modified water body
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Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started 2004
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Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Water quality
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Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications
Floodplain / River corridor
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement) Community Litter-picking work


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