Top tips for protecting your local freshwaters

What goes down the drain can end up in your local streams and rivers. Even if you don’t live by a river you can still impact it.

This page provides information little things you can do in the home to best protect your local streams, rivers and ponds.

A happy house can mean a happy river.



Blockages cause drains to back up, potentially flooding your house and causing water to spill over into surface water drains which will take your sewage and waste water straight into a local stream or river where it can have a devastating impact on wildlife.

Apart from water, only the three P’s (pee, poo and toilet paper) should ever go down the drain. Wet wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products are among those that will not break down in the drains and can cause blockages. In the kitchen fats, oils and grease will have the same effect and can block drains.


Don’t feed the fatberg 

Use Thames Water’s helpful guide to understand what should and shouldn’t go down the drain.


Fab little bag

The best disposal method. Period.

Disposing of sanitary products on the go has never been easier thanks to the Fab Little Bag, just drop in your used tampon or pad and press to seal closed.

For more info please visit:

Thames Water – How to videos

For more information please visit the Thames Water website



Small, barely visible pieces of plastic that can enter our freshwater environment and  affect aquatic life.

These fibers come from a range of sources including our homes when we wash our clothes. A single wash of synthetic clothes may release 700,000 microplastic fibres. These go down the drain and ultimately end up in local streams and rivers. However they don’t need to! Please read this information leaflet to find out how to reduce microplastic pollution from your wash.

These products can help to reduced microplastic going down your drain:



© Connect Right (Open Government Licence v3.0)

Check your property is connected correctly.  If household appliances such as toilets and washing machines are incorrectly plumbed into the surface water drain, instead of the foul sewer for treatment, they are ‘misconnected’ and will be polluting your local watercourses.

Waste water contains lots of nasty chemicals and pollutants that harm wildlife and damage habitats. Correctly connected drains will take all waste water to either a sewage treatment works or a domestic treatment system (such as a septic tank). Here it is treated to reduce its impact on wildlife before being discharged into a watercourse.

Surface water drains, such as rainwater downpipes, carry water directly to streams or rivers. This means if they carry anything other than rainwater it can have a devastating impact, potentially causing water to become toxic and kill wildlife. This is easily avoided by ensuring all your waste water (from toilets, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers ect…) goes down a foul water drain, NOT a surface water drain.

Check if your property is connected corrcetly by visiting Connect Right:

Please watch Thames Water’s video on misconnections to find out how much of a problem they can be:

Water Efficiency

Water Efficiency

Water is a precious resources. It is essential to almost everything we do – from having a drink, to washing our clothes, and flushing the loo. It’s also essential for a healthy environment.

To feed our thirsty population water is abstracted from rivers, underground sources, and estuaries through desalination plants. In the Thames Valley about 70% of water comes from underground sources in the Cotswold and Chiltern Hills.

Abstracting this water means there is less in the environment to supply our rivers and streams. In the Chilterns over-abstraction from the groundwater aquifer has caused water levels to drop to the extent that some rivers are disappearing. The River Misbourne is now dry for more than 50% of its total length. Wherever you are try to use water efficiently, leaving as much as possible in the environment.

Many people see the UK as a wet and rainy but, in the South East, London receives less rainfall per year than Rome, Istanbul, Dallas or even Sydney. The South East is classified by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed”. This will only get worse as our population and corresponding demand for water grows.  On average a single person uses 149 liters of water a day, and a household of 5 uses 523 liters per day!

You can calculate your daily and yearly water usage here:

Fortunately there are lots of ways we can reduce our consumption and use water efficiently. Use the resources below to help you do this:

Private sewage systems

Domestic sewage treatment systems

Could your septic tank or small package treatment works be contributing to the ‘dirty secret’ hidden in the clear waters of rivers and streams? 

Poorly preforming septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants can release raw sewage into the environment, polluting the water in the ground, in rivers, streams and along the coast. Although one polluting septic tank may only have an effect locally the accumulation of many across the catchment can have a overwhelming impact on water quality and wildlife. None of us would like to sit in raw sewage, so let’s not force our wildlife to.

Owners can ensure that their systems are properly maintained by following best practice guidelines and new General Binding Rules introduced in 2015.

Follow the ten top tips outlined in this leaflet to ensure you don’t pollute your local streams. 

Click here for more information