Rivers Trust launches Safe to Splash campaign at paddling hotspot

Ribble Rivers Trust has launched its exciting new Safe to Splash campaign which aims to secure bathing water status for a local paddling hotspot on River Ribble at Edisford Bridge, Clitheroe.

The Clitheroe based environmental charity, which looks after over 750 square miles of the Ribble catchment and 3,479 miles of watercourse, has launched the campaign for Bathing Water Status as a way of improving water quality for local wildlife and human communities. This campaign also hopes to raise awareness of rivers, their value as part of a balanced ecosystem, and their importance to local communities. 

As an ever-popular picnic, bathing, swimming, paddling, fishing, and water sports spot, Edisford Bridge is an ideal candidate for Bathing Water Status. With people visiting from miles around to take a dunk in the Ribble’s waters, this is an area that is ever-growing in popularity.

However, like 86 per cent of England’s rivers, the Ribble sadly fails to meet the criteria needed for ‘good’ ecological status or chemical status. In an area like the Ribble Valley there are multiple contributing factors affecting water quality, including agricultural pollution, sewage pollution, and pollution from homes including septic tanks and misconnected drains and appliances. 

The first part of the Safe to Splash campaign, which is already underway, will see Ribble Rivers Trust carry out extensive surveys. These will aim to gather data which shows how many people visit Edisford Bridge, the importance of the river to local communities and, perhaps most importantly, which harmful substances are present in the water and in what quantities.  This body of evidence will be used in the application for Bathing Water Status.

If successful this stretch of the Ribble would join one of a handful of inland rivers being monitored, including the Wharfe which has benefitted from hugely successful Ilkley Clean River Campaign. All areas with Bathing Water Status are regularly monitored during the bathing season (15 May to 30 September) for bacteria detrimental to human health. Each site is then designated either excellent, good, satisfactory or poor. 

Charlotte Ireland, Fundraising Officer at the Ribble Rivers Trust said “The Ribble Valley is lucky enough to have some of the most beautiful rivers in the country. However, many of these amazing spaces are suffering from various man-made problems, including water pollution. By gaining Bathing Water Status for this well-loved spot at Edisford Bridge we can ensure that people are safe to swim and paddle in the water. Once Bathing Water Status has been obtained, we hope that this will set a precedent and inspire others to care for their local rivers and green spaces.”

As well as helping people to make informed decisions about water quality before they take a dip, this status will encourage water industries and environmental bodies to take measures to lower pollution levels and deal with the problems facing our rivers head on. 

It won’t just be the local environment that benefits. This summer will see a Festival of the Ribble close to the site. This event will help people learn more about their local river, and how they can make a difference to their rivers from home. Plus, throughout the campaign, the Trust’s farm advisors will be on hand to give advice on water friendly farming, as well as advising on grant availability to help fund changes.

A large-scale river watch is also planned for the area as part of Safe to Splash. Featuring different surveys for different user groups, these river watch surveys will enable people of all ages and skill levels to record what they find at their local river. Over time, it is thought that safer water will boost the local economy by attracting a greater number of visitors and, in turn, more investment in infrastructure in the area. 

Throughout this campaign Ribble Rivers Trust will work and consult other interest groups and partners, including the local authorities. The public consultation has already started, and Ribble Trust would love to hear your opinions on the idea. To complete the survey, visit ribbletrust.org.uk/edisford-bridge-user-survey. This short survey will play a big role in the application.

For further information about the Safe to Splash campaign visit ribbletrust.org.uk or contact Ribble Rivers Trust via charlotte@ribbletrust.com