"A Clear Future for our River"


What is a drain misconnection – how do they threaten our rivers?

Misconnected pipes and drains are a major threat to UK rivers and seas – plumbing misconnections can contribute towards pollution so it is important to be aware of what to look out for. Throughout the UK there are thousands of homes with misconnected drains, which create large problem for maintaining clean rivers and healthy wildlife. So what is a drain misconnection and why do they affect our rivers?

What is a drain or pipe misconnection?

Usually, there are two sewers within your house – a wastewater sewer, where drainage from your bathroom appliances, toilets and washing machines will go to be treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Surface water, such as rainwater and roof and ground runoffs will head to a river or stream.

If the two pipes become misconnected, dirty water from your toilet or shower could get released into a river before being treated. River pollution then occurs when the wastewater from your appliances (washing machines, sinks and dishwashers are included) drains into the wrong sewers, leading it into streams and rivers. As well as this, the clean water pipes can become misconnected – this can overload the wastewater sewer and lead to flooding. This is why it’s so important to check your drain pipes are not misconnected, avoiding any nasty sewage problems or hefty fines form the council later on (you could be fined up to £50,000, however, this is rare).

How does this damage the environment?
Misconnected drains cause big risks for the environment as well as public health. Marine life can become contaminated from harmful bacteria and chemicals such as faeces and cosmetic items like shampoo. Other products such as bleach and body wash are particularly dangerous to the environment and wildlife as they contain extremely harmful chemicals. Furthermore, those who consume fish are at risk from all the chemicals which have polluted the seas.

How can I look after rivers?

Drain misconnections are a big problem for rivers and seas throughout the country, but misconnections aren’t the only threat to our rivers – flushing items like wet wipes and cotton buds can also be dangerous, even if they state they are ‘flushable’ on the packet. Flushed items can end up in our rivers through misconnections and being small enough to by-pass filtering systems. Research by UKDN Waterflow has shown that most commonly flushed items contain some form of plastic, which can take 500 years or more to biodegrade in a river or marine environment. Therefore, it’s important to only ever flush the 3 P’s – pee, poo and paper. Any other household items or litter should be discarded in the bin.

Wet wipes blocking a pipe – this will cause sewage to back up and overflow into our roads and rivers

Objects not meant for flushing can clog drains and rivers, which can result in flooding. If you want to find out more about drain misconnections and how to identify them, see the recent whitepaper by drainage and wastewater management company – UKDN.

NEW VACANCY! – Project Officer

Organisation: Bristol Avon Rivers Trust
Salary: C£18,000 – £22,000
Location: Bristol Avon catchment
Hours: Full Time, 40 hours per week Flexibility required (some evening & weekend work)
Position type: Paid
Contract: Full time
Closing date: Applications by Friday 19th April 2019
Website: www.bristolavonriverstrust.org
Contact name: Simon Hunter
Contact email: simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org


Due to an expected increase in business levels Bristol Avon Rivers Trust expects to grow in the coming year and is therefore looking to recruit new members to its team. Successful candidates will have the opportunity to join a very ambitious team and be involved in a very diverse workload. Future prospects will depend on your ability to generate future income as well as by delivering excellent value for our funders.

The Project Officer will contribute in the delivery of BART projects including practical restoration, survey work, education and engagement. You will report directly to a Project Manager.

Key duties and responsibilities

  • Provide project delivery support to Project Manager’s;
  • Deliver a range of surveys throughout the Bristol Avon catchment;
  • Build relationships with a range of communities, landowners, hub organisations, schools and stakeholders to ensure the successful delivery of projects;
  • Recruit volunteers to help with the delivery of a wide range of projects;
  • Raise funds for continuing and future works;
  • Implement rigorous safeguarding and health & safety procedures;
  • Contribute and assist in the production of publicity and marketing materials;
  • Report the progress of works to key stakeholders and promote more widely through social media;
  • Communicate BART’s voice to a wide audience.

Other Duties

  • You may be required to carry out other duties and tasks as required from time to time for the efficient operation of the Trust.
  • You shall lead by example in prioritising health and safety and wellbeing by taking responsibility. You shall comply with Bristol Avon Rivers Trust’s Health & Safety and Safeguarding policies and defined standards at all times.

Candidate Profile


  • Educated to degree level or equivalent, ideally in a relevant subject; 
  • A confident and clear communicator with experience in delivering activities with school children & / or community groups;
  • Self-motivated and able to work effectively from home;
  • Demonstrate a high level of accuracy and attention to detail; 
  • Ability to work flexibly, including some evenings and weekends;
  • Able to prioritise and plan activities to meet strict deadlines;
  • Proven experience in developing  successful funding applications;
  • Excellent literacy, numeracy and report-writing skills;
  • Exceptional presentation skills and communication skills;
  • Good computer literacy skills (e.g. with Excel, Word, PowerPoint);
  • Valid driving licence and own car, insured for business use.


  • Knowledge of the Bristol Avon Catchment;
  • Experience of practical river conservation work, river catchment and land management issues, agri-environmental schemes, aquatic-based directives and invasive non- native species;   
  • Experience delivering walkover surveys;
  • Experience organising and leading groups of volunteers.

General Notes

  • Extensive travel around the Bristol Avon Catchment will be necessary therefore a current driving licence and access to your own vehicle is essential.              
  • This position will from time to time require work during some evenings, weekends and public holidays to meet the needs of the post. A time-off in lieu system is operated by the Trust.
  • We expect you to carry out your job responsibilities in an environmentally aware manner, ensuring as little damage to the environment as possible. Our aim is to ensure all resources are utilised effectively and efficiently.

Interested parties should submit a CV and a one page covering letter explaining why they might be suitable for the position. These should be sent to: simon@bristolavonriverstrust.org

Interviews for shortlisted applicants will take place in Bristol, week beginning Monday 29th April / 6th May.

Backroom BART

Want to know more about the behind the scenes work that goes on at BART? Well keep reading to learn more about our work in the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and how this shapes our projects!

The Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership is part of a national network of partnerships attempting to show that working together will deliver more for our watery environment than working in isolation. Working in partnership is hard.  It is rarely the case that everyone has the same priorities and partners are certainly not all “equal”. Some are huge and are driven by regulation – others are tiny such as BART and are driven by passion. Sadly many important partners simply cannot find the time to get involved. The partnership has no legal authority and operates within existing regulations, we simply believe that we can achieve more together, and BART certainly feel that by taking part we are going in the right direction.

Current priorities are to turn the very laudable aims to improve our rivers contained  within the Bristol Avon Catchment Plan into real action. This is extremely hard work, not least because it is pointless creating a plan that will not be supported or financed, and in an economy seemingly inexorably driven by a “jobs and growth” agenda all partners already have stretching business as usual objectives which often vie against each other for funds. The partnership strives to overcome this by identifying how these business objectives can become pillars around which multiple benefit projects can be built – hopefully attracting new investment towards improvement for our rivers and the watery environment.

You will have seen the headlines about local cities and towns being stretched to the limit with budget cuts, this is also true of the agencies tasked with looking after our environment. The net result is that rivers and the riverside environment is often at the end of a long queue when seeking funds to protect these fragile and degrading environments. If you are wondering how you can help please read on!

There is a huge amount of change taking place within our catchments caused by the “jobs and growth” agenda and the need for house building. These changes will affect all of us and of course our rivers and streams, and BART believe it is vital that the public play a part in shaping what happens to our rivers whenever there is an opportunity. It is by commenting on local plans and the many consultations currently taking place (e.g. as currently in Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire) that public views can help shape these changes and protect our rivers.  Getting involved can help inform decision makers that you value your local river environment. Please take the time to do this if you possibly can.

In case you do wish to comment on local plans – whenever you see the word environment it pays to clarify that it is the river you want protected and improved. In too many cases our river environments are negatively affected and mitigation is made in an indirect way. The rivers we have in our catchment cannot be replaced by offsetting elsewhere – they are the only ones we have. We support any environmental improvement but not at the expense of our rivers!

During the coming year our business plans – such as they are for a small charity – include spending up to 20% of our time on activities that you will rarely see on our Facebook pages or this newsletter. These activities include helping to influence the plans the Catchment Partnership and Environment Agency are making, responding to consultations and working with communities to help them look after their valued blue spaces, as well as championing the wildlife that exists underneath the surface of our rivers and along their banksides. None of this is attractive and interesting enough for our funders and therefore we fund it ourselves. If you think this is valuable work BART would very much appreciate hearing from you – donations, volunteer time or even just a letter of support are all welcome. We are also looking for very special volunteers – Trustees – so if you think you have the skills or business contacts to help BART and our rivers to manage an uncertain future please contact ian@bristolavonriverstrust.org

If you read this before Christmas have a good one – otherwise enjoy your New Year!


Thank you volunteers!

In 2017 our wonderful volunteers contributed 4226.5 hours to BART to help restore and protect our rivers!

We would like to say a huge thank you to every single one of our volunteers, we couldn’t achieve half as much without your support. In total 826 people from across the Bristol Avon catchment got involved with our projects ranging from research, practical river habitat improvements and education.

If you would like to volunteer with us in the future please keep an eye on our website volunteering page, where you’ll find a summary of opportunities and our events calendar (www.bristolavonriverstrust.org/who-we-are/rivers_trust_supporters/).  On this page you’ll also find information on volunteering as a BART Beacon, where you can sign up to be the eyes and ears on a section of river local to you. We are building a network of beacons across our catchment so that we can keep an eye on as many rivers as possible!

Once again a huge thank you and well done to everyone who volunteered with us this year, we look forward to seeing you again in 2018!

Walkover surveys find room for improvement!

BART have been very busy recently, travelling all over the catchment doing walkover surveys and writing advisory reports for river improvement projects including the Corston, Newton, and Nunney Brooks and the River Somer. Jess, our Aquatic Scientist, has found many issues on the Nunney Brook including channel straightening and re-enforced banks which means there is limited bankside and in-stream habitat. She also found sections of the brook were overly deepened, sluggish, full of sediment and heavily shaded, preventing light from reaching the channel. These factors will reduce water quality and productivity in the channel, suppressing invertebrate populations due to lack of habitat and food sources which in turn reduces populations of other river wildlife.

Over-deepend, straightened and channelised section of the Nunney Brook

More survey work took us to a section of the River Avon near Sherston, Wiltshire, where we spent a beautiful evening assessing numbers of spawning Brown trout. We marked the locations of ‘redds’, which are depressions dug by the Brown trout into which they lay their eggs. This survey followed concerns of reduced numbers of the fish each year along with lower water levels. We are planning to put in some woody debris structures here next year to increase the diversity in water depth and flow, which will also help to scour the riverbed gravels of sediment which can smother the fish eggs and reduce spawning success.  To best position the woody debris structures to give the greatest benefit we are going to be monitoring locations of the redds over the winter.

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A beautiful evening for survey work!