Keeping our beaches and waterways clean
Despite being the height of the sunny season, August had warnings issued by advocacy groups in response to sewage spills in Essex waters. Southend was the most notable area affected with, at certain times, suggested advice not to swim in the sea. As reported by Essex Live, water quality has been severely diminished by the results of an over-burdened sewage infrastructure.
Clean green areas and beaches are something that Essex residents should be able to enjoy secure in the knowledge that they can help you to improve your health, not potentially pose a risk!
With a sunstantial increase in the population of Essex, the strain on these areas will only become more acute. So what as citizens of the county can we do to influence change?
Essex is in line for £318m of big infrastructure improvements. According to ITV, much needed improvements to a Chelmsford bypass and new railway station are inbound, with the region generally receiving a lot of attention in terms of development which is good news for people hoping to get around the county. This development, including the interim impact of construction work, will place increased pressure on Essex’ water systems. As the county continues to undergo further development, measures need to be taken to ensure capacity.
One potential way is through the choice of materials. As outlined by EasyMerchant, innovative specialist plastics can help produce systems that can cope with the capacity needed whilst also offering lower maintenance costs. As a resident, we can put pressure on our local councils to ensure they make careful choices when choosing contractors and always consider the most appropriate choice of materials, using not just the ‘cheapest’ option but the best value for money which means using local contractors if possible, ensuring the use of greener materials and contractors who have good environmental policies, and that materials are long-lasting and need little ongoing maintenance.
Of course, if you are making any personal renovation or repairs to your property you should make the same considerations.
Green management of waste
While the management of new waste from construction will be crucial to keeping our natural areas safe and clean, there are various environmental factors that have been impacting areas such as beaches. Essex Live reported in July that two beaches, Leigh’s Bell Wharf and Groyne 41 were completely unsuitable for human use. Given the natural beauty of both areas, that’s a shame.
One of the major reasons behind this, according to Essex Live, is the washing of agricultural waste into the water, along with the effect of nesting pigeons on their respective piers. In the pursuit of better managed waste and sewage, it is increasingly important that SuDs (Sustainable Drainage Systems) which seeks to mimic rainfall in a way simialr to natural processes, is embraced. In the long term, this can lead to the creation of new green community areas and a healthier environment for Essex.
Of course, as individuals we also have a huge impact on our local drainage systems. It is important to consider what we are flushing down the loo to avoid blockages: check any wipes you use have the Fine to Flush logo and don’t flush any presciption drugs or over-the-counter-medications.
We are also increasingly aware of the damage some fertilisers and pesticides are causing to our pollinators, but consider too that these can leech into our groundwater. Always consider keeping good levels of diverse vegetation, too, as this will help to combat waste runoff.
Taking control of policy
Some of the problems facing Essex’s waste management situation are not even created by the county itself. As reported in 2016 by The Guardian, Essex has become a tipping ground for all of London’s waste, either from fly tipping or from Thames litter washing up, such as in Rainham. As a result, places like Thurrock have some of the most toxic air in the country. Cleaning this act up is a matter of being firm; local authorities should do their utmost to say no to London and ensure the culprits clean up their act.
Essex has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country, but pollution has created a situation where not all of it can be enjoyed.
With better infrastructure and more assertive politics at the fore, the potential is there for us to continue to enjoy our lovely county safely and happily. As a resident, you have a right to your say, and getting in touch with your MP or local council to let them know your views is always effective.