Corby river and lake pollution threat from sewage spill as dog walkers warned to keep away

Residents have reported seeing and smelling sewage in the Willow Brook

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 4:45 pm

Dog owners have been advised to stop their pets playing in a Corby brook that feeds the town's boating lake and flows on to the River Nene after it was affected by a sewage leak.

Willow Brook, a small stream that is mainly culverted, passes through the town's Beanfield estate, feeds Corby Boating Lake, and then passes alongside Cottingham Road.

As a tributary of the River Nene the stream then flows into the Old Village, leaving the town past the steel works.

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Tankers have been seen at Corby Boating Lake

An Anglian Water spokesperson said, “We understand that there is currently an issue with a private sewer near to Cottingham Road in Corby.

"As a precaution we are advising people not to allow their dogs to go into the Willow Brook while we work to investigate and assist the owner of the private sewer to stop the issue.”

Residents have been reporting seeing sewage in and around the waterway with tankers from Anglian Water seen at the Boating Lake for the past week.

Kyle Mills, manager of the Boating Lake Café, said: "There seems to be an amount of sewage leaking into the lake from the inlet at the far side.

The Willow Brook passes under the Beanfield estate in culverts, into the Boating Lake, runs parallel with Cottingham Road and then on to the Old Village

"Anglian Water has been out many times now trying to drain it with big tankers. It's been going on for the last seven days at least.

"It looks like there is a layer of oil or something on the top if you have a look."

Anglers have reported a smell of sewage by the water and Cllr Lyn Buckingham has been passing on the message to dog owners to make sure their pets don't drink from the lake or river.

She said: "This should not have happened. How do we clean it now? It's in the lake and near to West Glebe Park.

"I am writing to the Environment Agency. I've asked for it to be investigated. I got a message to say that Anglian Water was on the case and that they have identified the source but I want a written report to stop it from happening in the future. We think it's coming from somewhere on the Beanfield estate.

"The Willow Brook is an integral part of the town. It goes into the Nene. We need to look after our little bit. We are trying to enhance the biodiversity. I have been banging the drum for the Willow Brook for years.

"We need to maintain and keep an eye on the river. There used to be kingfishers - we have got to start to reclaim our natural environment."

The Willow Brook rises north of Corby where, until 1980, water was extracted for use at Corby Steelworks. It then flows through or near Deene, Bulwick, Blatherwycke, King's Cliffe and Woodnewton and joins the Nene downstream from Fotheringhay.

Anglian Water urges people to get in touch if they suspect an incident of pollution.

Pollution can be dangerous to the environment, at its worst, kill fish and other aquatic life and could cause a risk to human health. It can also affect biodiversity, and the use of water and land for agricultural purposes.

The most obvious sign of pollution in a stream or river is the presence of sewage solids in the water, but there may also be other indicators such as toilet waste – i.e. toilet paper, condoms and sanitary products, soap suds or a milky-looking discharge, a grey colour and a a noticeable sewage smell.

To report pollution in local rivers, streams or any watercourse from pipes or other equipment, call Anglian Water's 24-hour helpline on 03457 145 145 or report online.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are aware of a pollution incident in Willow Brook, Corby, which has been dealt with by Anglian Water, who carried out the clear-up and traced the suspected source. The remaining residue will disperse naturally.

“We would like to remind people that surface water drains are connected to watercourses and should not be used for the disposal of waste.

“Anyone spotting pollution should call our 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.”

In June this year, Anglian Water paid out £100,000 to two environmental charities after breaching the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 after pollution incidents caused by burst water mains discharging water contaminated with sediment in 2016.

The first took place in May at Billing Brook, Northampton and the second in July at Willow Brook, Corby.

After investigating, Environment Agency officers found that Anglian Water had discharged matter or effluent that is poisonous or injurious to fish, spawn, spawning areas or food of fish.

The company submitted an Enforcement Undertaking agreeing to take steps to ensure similar incidents would not happen again and offered to pay £100,000 to charity.

A previous major spill in the Willow Brook took place in 2014 when crude sewage was released into the Corby watercourse.