CAMPAIGNERS want public authorities to step-up and help residents fight raw sewage discharges into Mid Cheshire's beautiful rivers.    

As public anger at raw sewage dumping in rivers grows, Northwich town councillor, Lee Siddall, says water companies can’t be relied on to curb ongoing sewage discharges into our waterways by themselves.

Cllr Siddall is working closely with environmental charity, Northwich Groundwork, to develop a citizen science project to train residents to take water quality samples and monitor potential sources of pollution.    

He is now calling on United Utilities (UU), Environment Agency (EA), and Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) to support and help fund the project, and has launched an e-petition to get backing for the campaign.

Cllr Siddall said: "We can't rely on water companies, which have been disregarding the well-being of our rivers for years by using them as open sewage overflows.

“The whole point is to evaluate the water quality of our rivers through community participation, and to work closely with the water authority to improve the health of our waterways in Mid Cheshire. 

“By investing in citizen science and promoting active community engagement, we can foster a sense of responsibility and ownership over the health of our rivers. 

“The benefits of this project extend beyond the data collected. It nurtures a culture of environmental awareness and empowers community members to make informed choices in their daily lives.

“Groundwork, a highly respected organization, has successfully carried out similar citizen science projects in the past. Their expertise and commitment to environmental sustainability make them the ideal partner to lead this endeavour.

“We are kindly requesting the support and backing for this project from UU, EA, and CWAC."

A recent report by the BBC on the River Dee in Chester highlighted the importance of citizen science projects and active involvement from the community.

Their impact is recognised by EA, whose budget for environmental monitoring has been cut by 53 per cent in the last decade, according to data from Prospect, a trade union representing professionals in the public sector.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Citizen science initiatives provide invaluable data, which complements the EA’s monitoring and assessment work and enables a greater level of engagement with partners.

“We hugely value the contribution of England’s enthusiastic citizen scientists and share their passion for the environment.

“We welcome various emerging initiatives and look forward to working more closely together to help find solutions to the complex problems water is facing.”

Mike Gauterin, customer services director at UU, said: "We understand people want to see an end to the use of storm overflows, a design feature of wastewater systems across the UK and overseas for more than a hundred years.

"UU have invested more than £20 billion in improvements to water and wastewater services since 1989.

"Here in the Northwest, bathing waters have improved from a 20 per cent pass rate in 1988, to a 97 per cent pass rate in 2022."