• Watlington Climate Action Group

Only rain down the drain - again




WEG has had two reports this year of paint and brush cleaner being poured into road drains in the High Street and Davenport Place. So, we realise it is time, once again, to raise awareness of the safe disposal of household chemicals to protect the brooks.

Back in 2017, all the Brown Trout and most of the freshwater water shrimp living in the stream above and below the roundabout on the Cuxham Road were killed; and it was concluded that the cause was a relatively small quantity of a hazardous chemical that entered the brook from a road drain. It took a couple of hundred meters of flow and additional groundwater from springs that boost the Brook below the roundabout, to eventually dilute the chemical sufficiently to stop it killing wildlife. Events like this happen all over the country which is why the Environment Agency campaigns under the slogan ‘only rain down the drain’.


Fortunately, very few people would think of disposing of these here.


Fortunately, most people would not think of pouring chemical straight into the brook, but it is a different matter with road drains. What is often not realised is that they all connect straight to the brook, mostly out of sight underground where it flows through tunnels under Brook Street and Cuxham Road. This drainage system is also the reason why this otherwise clear, quiet, bubbling chalk spring-fed stream turns into a muddy racing torrent when it rains heavily.


But what about pouring them away here?

It was not possible for the Environment Agency to determine the exact hazardous chemical was that killed the fish in Watlington, so here is a reminder of what our local waste authority, South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), considers to be hazardous household waste – that is rubbish with characteristics that cause danger to health or the environment. They include:

· pesticides

· insecticides

· other garden chemicals

· household cleaning chemicals

· car care products

· photographic chemicals

· paint and paint thinner


Consequently, SODC provides facilities for their safe disposal at it Waste Recycling Centres. To that list can be added other non-household chemicals we use that find their way into drains such as:

· engine oil,

· fuel petrol, and

· building and decorating products


It is easy to get upset about the loss of jungle, burning of rainforest and seas filling up with plastic, but there is plenty that can be done to right on our doorsteps to protect the environment and wildlife in the parish of Watlington.

In WEG we are considering new ways to help raise awareness of protecting the watercourses. In the meantime, we can only ask that we all do our best to ensure our households and people who work on our houses and gardens are aware of the ‘only rain down the drain rule’.

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Photography by Nicola Schafer :  Website by Satnam Bains :  Funded by SODC Councillor Grant