Furtive Fly Tippers Block Brooks
This little girl is doing what hundreds of thousands of kids and adults do every year; she’s visiting a local lake and watching the birds (hopefully she isn’t throwing in lumps of stale bread). Water has attracted and enthralled people for millions of years, apart from being essential for life it is beautiful and calming.
Goldilocks and the big geese
To get the best possible experience from a lake or pond the water should be in great shape to support a variety of invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and, naturally, the plants that create the habitat – floating, emersed and marginals.
What the little girl isn’t aware of is the brook that leads into this particular lake. It is channeled through an urban area – not a city, just a small town. And the behaviour of the local residents affects the water that flows into the lake. They regularly fly-tip. The following photos aren’t particularly unusual for any part of the country.
Not the Tour de France!
This bike has obviously been here a fair while. Mud has been deposited during high water levels.
Although the water has a cloudy appearance its perfectly possible to pick out metal debris in the layers of silt; so the scooter is just the latest in a a succession of discarded items fly-tipped into the brook.
While items like bikes and scooters are reasonably inert in the short term, the anonymous contents of the ubiquitous black bag can be highly toxic or otherwise damaging. Paint, household chemicals, food waste, disposable nappies… you name it, it all ends up in streams and brooks. If nothing else it blocks the water flow and risks flooding the area.
Meanwhile downstream at the lake the chemicals and bacteria carried along from the rubbish have a noticeable effect on the water quality. Anything that enriches the fertility of the water will cause plants to overgrow and promote algal blooms. Algae affects the dissolved oxygen contained in the water, too little and the fish will be gasping at the surface, too much and the fish will develop gas bubbles in their gills and die.
And thinking of food waste… rats! I know we are never far away form a rat but its stupid to encourage them and offer them rich pickings in an area where they cannot be controlled. They breed freely and every rat can potentially transmit Weil’s disease – leptospirosis – to people.
Waterfowl are not particularly discriminating about what they eat nor are they capable of freeing themselves from string or wire when they get entangled. With dumped rubbish they can be exposed to all sorts of nuisance substances and items. They become a problem to the manager of the lake or pond and need rescue and treatment. Dead birds become an additional danger to the water quality of the lake, producing vast amounts of bacteria which are ingested by other birds and other species.
At some point a grating has been installed to prevent objects heading downstream towards the lake… branches and so forth. But there are wheels either side of the grating and assorted black bags, cartons and tat left behind by a feckless fly-tipper. The fine for fly-tipping in this locality is £2,000, it would be nice to think the offenders were identified and fined.