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A journey down Ampney Brook

How sewage pollution is affecting your rivers and streams


Ampney Brook starts near Cirencester. Like the River Windrush, the water is naturally filtered by limestone, making it very clear.

Upstream in Ampney Brook, June 2020

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Ampney Brook is home to a healthy fish and invertebrate population. Freshwater fish, such as trout, flourish in these conditions.

Brown trout in Ampney Brook, April 2021

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Let's look further downstream

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Downstream, there's a mysterious pipe near the sewage pumping station. It runs into Ampney Brook and foam spills out.

Foam coming out of the pipe near the sewage pumping station, June 2020

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We cannot prove a link, but downstream of the sewage pumping station the water gradually
becomes murky.

Ampney Brook after the pumping station, June 2020

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The water now takes on a different appearance. So does the riverbed and weed, which is coated in algae and sediment. This is a common sign of sewage pollution.

Ampney Brook after the pumping station in June 2020

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What happens if we keep going downstream?

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Now we come to the sewage works. There's an outfall pipe and more strange foam.

Foam at the outfall pipe by
Ampney St Peter sewage works

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Downstream of the sewage works, we find algae and sediment covering the weeds. This prevents photosynthesis and chokes aquatic plants.

Diatoms (a type of algae) and sediment covers plants after the sewage works

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Beneath the surface, the water is cloudy and grey. Some trout appear to be surviving, but these conditions are not conducive to life.

Downstream of the sewage works, and two pumping stations,
footage taken near Down Ampney in June 2020

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Before sewage works & pumping stations

Clear water.

Golden gravel.

Algae-free plants.

After sewage works
& pumping stations

Cloudy water.

Sediment over gravel.
Conditions are not
conducive to life.

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Why does it matter?


Many species of fish can't spawn in polluted riverbeds. You may not see dead fish, but they'll slowly disappear.


Plants are choked by sewage pollution. Eventually, they will stop growing -- removing an important habitat for many species.


Sewage pollution makes water unsafe for people and their pets. This is happening in rivers across the country.

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"We want to pass the river onto the next generation as an asset - not a liability."

Ash Smith, WASP Founder

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