Monday, 13 May 2013

Making waves

Now for something completely different! Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, we learn that there are many ways that your lakeside trip can be greener, if that’s not a contradiction in terms!

As many of us start to plan our holidays or weekends away, we may spare a thought for our environmental impact. For one group of activities, namely motor water sports, we can be even more careful now, thanks to new guidance from the greener-boating project ( and the environment agency. It's just one more example of independent organisations trying to make the world a better place and look after our environment.

Did you know that you should not anchor in protected areas where there are special wildlife habitats? You should avoid causing pollution by checking your bilges and engines for leaks, putting down drip trays and especially being careful when refuelling. Five litres of oil will leave a skin of oil over a lake covering 2 football pitches!

Of course you can help by using biodegradable oils and recycling oil when you can. Oil is responsible for 16% of all lake pollution in the UK, with most spills happening near jetties, thanks to overfilling or carelessness. Always carry a spill kit; they can stop a lot of damage.

It's also important to not allow toilet products (some are extremely toxic to water life), waste or grey water to get into the lake water; fortunately, many marinas have facilities for pumping out waste. Put cooking waste in a bin, not over the side. Also be sure to use phosphate-free detergents; ever seen the unsightly foam at weirs and around lake edges? By the way, an EU ban on phosphates in detergents comes into force on 30 June 2013.

Small things always make a difference. Washing your gear and clothes before going away can avoid unnecessary contamination by diseases or unwanted pests, such as the killer freshwater shrimp which can survive in damp sheeting or clothing.

We all want to see clean lakes and waterways well stocked with fish such as perch, roach and trout, or our own local Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus); it's cold here! This goes double for especially rare species which are very sensitive to chemical levels.

As with many green initiatives, it’s about education, allowing one to both protect biodiversity and have an enjoyable time.

David Jackman

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