Bath Voice News: rowing club’s dismay at plastic rubbish clogging up the River Avon including ‘foul smelling’ hygiene products

By Harry Mottram: The BBC’s Tess de la Mare and Imogen Sellers have reported on a disgusting aspect of water waste entering the River Avon and making the lives of rowers a misery.

The problem is worse following heavy rain in January but the problem is being solved by water-based litter pickers who are cleaning up the sanitary waste from the river in the Wessex Water Company area.

The BBC reported the vice-captain of The Minerva Bath Road Rowing Club Ian Burdiss as saying: “The state of the river is as bad as I have ever seen it and I have been rowing for 40 years, 30 of them in Bath.

“We have floods regularly and I have never seen this amount of rubbish brought down with the water, the actual branches have been totally covered in plastic.”

And they reported on Jules Taylor, one of the rowers who has joined the clean up effort, who said: “The rubbish just makes rowing really unpleasant, we are quite low in the water and you can smell it and things get in your oars as well.”

“It’s not great, there’s a lot of wildlife out here, we see otters, we see birds, there’s a lot of fish.

“The plastic in the river is really not going to be good for the wildlife at all.”

The photograpah is from the BBC’s Tess de la Mare and Imogen Sellers’ report. The full report is at

Wessex Water said the public should call 0345 600 4 600 if you spot signs of pollution. They said they will attend any pollution incidents within two hours to investigate.

Items that must not be flushed away:

  • putting your rubbish in the bin, not down the toilet  
  • allowing fat, oil and grease to cool before putting it in the bin. Do not pour it down the sink 
  • ensuring your sinks, washing machine and dishwasher are connected to the foul sewer and not the surface water sewer – one in five homes have a misconnection.