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The charity making life better by water

Reporting litter, weeds and pollution

Our canals and rivers are enjoyed by millions of people every year. Most of them appreciate that they are safe and pleasant places to visit so leave them as they found them.

'Trolly' graphic showing make up of plastic and litter in our waterways

However, each year we still clean up hundreds of tonnes of floating litter, towpath litter, fly tipped waste, hazardous waste, dog poo and pollution to make sure other people's rubbish doesn't spoil your enjoyment of our waterways.

Cleaning this up diverts funds away from essential maintenance and restoration work. The good news is that it's easy to help us keep our canals, rivers and towpaths tidy. Here's how…

Bins and recycling

Over the course of a year, we'll empty around 67,000 wheelie bins and 1,500 skips costing just under £1.2m.

You can find out here how much we save from landfill and recycle.

Gentle reminder: Our bins are for general waste, such as non-recyclable packaging. Please take large items such as mattresses and tyres to your nearest council recycling centre.

We're dedicated to recycling more and aim to increase the amount of recycling points available for customers with our Green Plan.

Please contact us if you see:

  • Your local bins haven't been emptied on time
  • Litter on the bin area floor
  • Hypodermic needles or other offensive waste
  • Vermin by the bins – please note wherever possible we don't bait sites. Rodents are only attracted to places where loose food is not put in the bins. The site may need tidying so please tell us about that
  • Fly tipping – white goods, tyres, motor bikes, oil containers etc

Let us know online or call 0303 040 4040


Take our Plastics Challenge

Discover what you can do on your doorstep to tackle the global plastics crisis

Disposing of old oil

We don't have a used oil or bilge waste disposal service. In fact, we spend thousands of pounds every year disposing of waste that boat owners need to dispose of themselves. Please take your waste oil to the nearest dedicated local authority site.

Dog poo on towpaths

You'll find waste bins at many places along the towpaths. These are emptied periodically. If the bin is full, or where there are no bins, please take your litter home with you.

Magnet fishing

Visitors love coming to our waterways. And many of you take an interest in the weird and wonderful items that sometimes lie at the bottom of the canal. However, magnet fishing can have its dangers. Consequently, you are not allowed to magnet fish in our waterways. And here's why…

Magnet fishers have recently pulled items that have been left in the canal and that were potentially dangerous, such as a WW2 hand grenade! While these items had been in the water a very long time, fishing them out with magnets could have harmed the person concerned. So, because we want you to stay just the way you are, we suggest you visit our angling pages and try that instead… it's more fun!


We've a legal obligation to make sure the canals and rivers are free from any obstructions. Any work we do is from our own land and the cuttings are typically left on the non-towpath side of the waterway.

Please contact us if you see:

  • Invasive weeds, particularly Japanese knotweed by the canal
  • Ragwort on Trust land near to horses grazing
  • Clearly overgrown vegetation or a tree blocking the navigation
  • Cuttings left behind – (sometimes we leave cuttings as they make brilliant habitat piles for wildlife)

Let us know online or call 0303 040 4040


All our waterways are vulnerable to pollution. From small, accidental spills to major problems causing significant environmental damage. Around 300 pollution incidents are reported to us every year, costing between £50 and £50,000 each to resolve.

If you see pollution on our waterways, please:

Let us know online or call 0303 040 4040

When you report pollution, please tell us the following information:

  • The name of the canal, waterway or reservoir affected
  • The exact location of the incident; number of the nearest lock, bridge, road, etc
  • The extent / appearance of the pollution; colour, smell, etc
  • The potential source of the pollution if it is obvious
  • Whether there are any distressed or dead fish, birds, animals affected
  • If you've reported the incident to the Environment Agency, provide their incident number
  • Your contact number, in case we need any further information to help us deal with the pollution

Dealing with pollution

You'll find more information and advice on preventing pollution from The Green Blue and Environment Agency

Help prevent pollution

Our local teams take action to contain and minimise the impact of the pollution. If the pollution is serious, we support the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales who'll lead on responding to the incident.

Last Edited: 24 August 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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