Pollution Watch is Set to Make a Splash



Date Added: 03.07.24

Download Pollution Watch and Make a Positive Change to Watercourses in the UK

What do you get when you cross a game fisherman and a keen boater? The answer is a possible solution to the growing problem we have with water pollution in the UK.

Unfortunately, this situation is no joke.

In fact, without intervention, our rivers, lakes, streams, canals and other bodies of fresh water will become more polluted, threatening ecosystems, the environment and impacting public health.

A meeting of minds

Russ Dilks and Tim Gray have worked together for over a decade and were well aware of each other’s water-based hobbies. This understanding prompted Russ to share his idea of a website and App to report, monitor and help eliminate water pollution in the UK.

The two put their minds to designing and developing a website and phone App as tools to empower individuals and bring water companies, farmers, businesses, government bodies and other stakeholders to the table to collectively identify and resolve these pollution events.

We caught up with Tim Gray to find out why he is so passionate about the health and cleanliness of our rivers and other bodies of fresh water and what he hopes to achieve through the launch of Pollution Watch UK.

Tim comments: “When I was young, I was always the child drawn to water, whether a stream, river, lake, pond or simply jumping in puddles. Water has always fascinated me and, when young, I was always in it, on it or playing beside it.”

“Over the years I’ve become increasingly concerned by the state of our rivers and water courses and would think twice about encouraging my own children to have the freedoms around water I did.”

“Many rivers today are dead. There was a time you would see rivers teaming with fish and invertebrate life. You could literally watch the life within them, moving and swaying with the flow of the water. Today, you see nothing, even our famous chalk streams, that were once crystal clear, are at threat.”

“We should be exploring the aquatic born fly life, invertebrates, migratory fish species, vegetation and wildlife that thrive from our water sources. Instead, we are watching them turn into places where you are much more likely to find plastic, rubbish, sewage, foul smells, murky water and dirty gravel.”

A cause-related community

While the scale of the problem feels like a challenge in itself, Tim explains why an interactive website and App is set to change that.

He comments: “When Russ approached me with the idea of Pollution Watch I was fascinated. Through a website that would facilitate a cause-related community and an App that would make it simple to log incidents, we could really make a difference.”

“The idea is that people can use the App to report pollution incidents in a simple and fun way. On opening the App it auto-locates you on a map. You choose from a drop-down the pollution type, insert a short description, take a picture and it’s done. The website can be used to monitor pollution events (locally or nationally), update reports, communicate and share news or updates with others on the platform.”

“It takes no time at all to capture the event. Water companies, businesses, farmers and other organisations can elect to be notified of any new pollution reports in their area and can add updates to each report, such as receipt, explanation, remedial action taken and they can ultimately mark the pollution incident as ‘resolved.”

“It’s all about being accountable for our actions. Whether we are a person throwing litter, a company discharging waste into a sewer or river, a farmer allowing agricultural run-off or nitrates into a watercourse, or a hotel, campsite or residential property with a defective sewage system/septic tank…we all have a collective responsibility to put it right.”

Making a difference

The App, which officially launched on Monday 1 July, has already been downloaded and used in anger. New pollution incidents are being reported each day by people who care passionately about the health of our rivers and bodies of fresh water in the UK.

Tim continues: “The App has been developed using similar technologies and digital architecture to those used to monitor and to track potholes. It requires the user to click a few buttons and then that information will be logged, reported, tracked and reviewed.”

“The wonderful thing about the App is that it is very inclusive. It can be used by members of clubs and associations with a vested interest in the health of rivers/water, by individuals who spend time outdoors, even families that want to educate their children in a fun way. With children the App almost ‘gamifies’ the process and gives parents an opportunity to show what the problem is, before explaining how we could put it right. It’s fun in that respect.”

A business for good

It’s clear that a lot of time and effort has gone into developing this website and App with no obvious commercial benefit to those that have invested their own money and time into it. We ask what Russ and Tim want to achieve.

Russ comments: “This was never about making money. It was about doing the right thing and developing a business that will make a real and meaningful difference. It’s easy to turn your back on a problem and to watch it get worse. We couldn’t do that.

Tim adds: “We want to make sure that future generations can safely access the rivers, streams, lakes and other bodies of fresh water and enjoy them as we did as children and protect the aquatic life and the ecosystems that rely upon clean water.”

Turning a negative into a positive

While some people may see Pollution Watch as a way of naming and shaming, it is actually an opportunity for water companies, local authorities, businesses and individuals to turn a negative into a positive.

Tim explains: “With Pollution Watch UK we really want to create a movement and to get as many people as possible onboard. This will be the only place that every pollution event in the country can be logged and monitored.

“Companies can use this to their advantage by accepting a problem and putting it right. This then becomes a good news story and positions them as having acted responsibly and highlights good practice. If we can then encourage others to do the same, it starts to build real momentum.”

“The time for change is now and surely, with collaboration, we can all achieve our collective goal – less pollution and clearer water.  We very much hope that Pollution Watch UK will become the start of a tidal wave of change that is needed if we are to give our fresh waterways back to our children and future generations to come.”