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Undergraduate students in Durham University’s Department of Geography Alan Liotard, Aaron Neill and Miles Wilson introduce the impacts of littering on the health of rivers and wildlife. This is part of a series of posts on urban diffuse pollution awareness. Authors were selected for the Environment Agency’s Pollution Challenge that showcases the best and innovative ideas from students, academics and industry on tackling the problem of urban diffuse pollution in the UK.

Fast food businesses may be very attractive and save you time when you’re in a hurry, but these companies are a major source of the packaging that litters our rivers and riverbanks.

litter1

Packaging ends up directly in the river environment when people don’t pay attention to what they are doing. To help tackle the problem of pollution in rivers, it is very easy! You just need to bin your rubbish, or even better, recycle it!

duck

A duck entangled!

In the River Wear in Durham, it has been found that a lot of rubbish in and around the river comes from local businesses such as Burger King, Tesco or Starbucks. This rubbish impacts the landscape visually, and impacts wildlife as well. For example, plastic casings can entangle, trap and suffocate animals found within a river system. Read the rest of this entry »

Undergraduate students in Durham University’s Department of Geography Rebecca and Victoria Smith explain how people can become more aware of the causes of urban diffuse pollution and what can be done about it. This is part of a series of posts on urban diffuse pollution awareness. Authors were selected for the Environment Agency’s Pollution Challenge that showcases the best and innovative ideas from students, academics and industry on tackling the problem of urban diffuse pollution in the UK.

when it rains it drains

In order to address the issue of urban diffuse pollution we need to be aware of the issue and our actions.  It is likely that every day we contribute some urban diffuse pollution without even rrealising it.  Such simple everyday tasks include washing your car on your driveway, or not cleaning up pet waste.  The waste water from washing your car on your driveway contributes to urban diffuse pollution because rather than this water going to the sewer to be treated and the cleaning chemicals and materials been removed, the water goes down storm drains.  Water from storm drains enters nearby river channels along with the chemicals from washing your car.  This causes the water quality of these rivers to be reduced.  Poor water quality can impact the surrounding environment, reducing biodiversity.

To reduce such contributions we need to improve awareness of our everyday actions that contribute to urban diffuse pollution.  If we take note of such simple activities, for example by washing our cars at garages with car washing facilities, this waste water can be treated prior to entering the river channels.  This can save you the job of washing your car and getting wet (and also help the environment!). Read the rest of this entry »

In the first of a series of posts on urban diffusion pollution, postgraduate student in Durham University’s Department of Geography, Libby Fernspins down exactly what diffuse pollution is and some of the ways it gets into our streets and waterways. This is part of a series of posts on urban diffuse pollution awareness. Libby was one of a number of students from Durham University selected for the Environment Agency’s Pollution Challenge that showcases the best and innovative ideas from students, academics and industry on tackling the problem of urban diffuse pollution in the UK.

udp

If you’re anything like me, you would be thinking “urban diffuse pollution: that sounds like one of those silly scientific geography words that is more complicated than it needs to be”. You would be right. Urban diffuse pollution basically means urban mess: dirty litter, chemicals, gunk and nastiness. It is a problem for developed and less developed countries alike.  It damages our town or city environment, it is really spread out, it comes from lots of places, and is, in general, difficult to clean up and even more difficult to work out where its coming from! But just because it is hard to see where this mess comes from, doesn’t mean it isn’t important to think about. The trouble is, we have all, at one time or other, contributed to this pollution. Read more

The American Geophysical Union Fall meeting is held every year in San Francisco and is one of the largest geosciences meetings with over 19,000 people attending.  The meeting is held over five days in two huge meeting spaces (think multiple indoor football pitches, and then two floors of them).  The sheer scale of the meeting means it’s hard to see every presentation that is relevant to you, let alone the sessions on topics that are a step away from your core interests.  It is these sessions that often lead to new ideas for your core problems – stepping over that disciplinary divide often pays dividends. Read more

This is a new presentation on SCIMAP given by Prof Stuart Lane on how to monitor diffuse agricultural pollution in river catchments within the UK. SCIMAP allows researchers to generate maps of diffuse river pollution within catchments in order to identify sources of river pollution.

SCIMAP project website: http://www.scimap.org.uk

How do we address the problem of polluted water in the UK?  Run-off from agricultural pollution and waste discharge has been a major concern in the UK for the public, environmental groups and government alike.  One way to understand how agricultural pollution occurs in UK’s rivers, lakes and ground water is by looking at how they are connected to areas that produce large amounts of pollution.  This is where  SCIMAP comes in to identify the locations where pollution can enter bodies of water in order to inform decision-makers in government, NGOs and land owners about how they can protect UK water environment.  One of the leaders of the project and Director of Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Professor Stuart Lane, gives a screen cast introduction to SCIMAP:

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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