Woodbridge residents march in protest of River Deben pollution
Residents in Woodbridge took to the streets this weekend in protest of pollution of the River Deben.
More than forty people met on April 23 at Whisstocks Place in the town to march past the river with banners and placards in an effort to raise awareness.
A 10-minute film on pollution in the Deben, created by Tim Curtis and Malcolm Hodd, was played on loop and there was an exhibition by artist-photographer Ruth Leach entitled "Faces of Deben", which saw her sink 20 portraits into the river for 6 weeks.
People of all ages and backgrounds attended the protest, including open water swimmers, fishermen and environmentalists.
Speaking to crowds, organiser Caroline Page, Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Woodbridge, said: “This event started because there are 11 national protests about water quality happening today, but rivers are local. Our river is local. We need to raise local awareness.
"We are only temporary custodians and temporary users of waters that have run here for thousands of years. In Woodbridge people have lived by and swum in these rivers for a good 8000 years."
Film maker Malcolm Hodd of Deben Estuary Partnership talked about discussions with the Water board and Environment Agency and Woodbridge Mayor Sue Bale spoke on behalf of the town.
Woodbridge Town Councillor Eamonn Onolan described water testing along the Deben over the last months by ‘citizen scientists’ showing fluctuating rates of E.coli 'all the way along the estuary.'
Other speakers included the Tide Mill Museum Manager and Head Miller of Woodbridge, Dan Tarrant-Willis.
The march took residents from the Tide Mill along Woodbridge Thoroughfare, along the riverside and back to Whisstocks Place accompanied by flute, accordion and pipe music.
Cllr Page said: "This is the first of a series of events in which we are trying to raise awareness and improve water-quality. I am organising them together with Ruth Leach in co-operation with all bodies and individuals who have an interest or stake in the river"
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency welcomes the growing interest of people using rivers and open waters for recreation. However, current regulations for rivers and open waters in England protect wildlife and are not designed for the protection of human health.
“We do monitor e.coli levels at designated bathing waters, however, the River Deben is not a designated bathing water.
“E.coli is a naturally occurring bacteria and is found in the guts of all warm blooded animals and humans. It can enter rivers from a number of sources including birds, dogs, cattle, run-off containing animal faeces and storm overflows.
“If people suspect a pollution incident has occurred in a watercourse they can report it to our incident line on 0800 807060.”