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The charity making life better by water

What to do if you spot pollution

More than 500 pollution incidents are reported to us every year, costing between £50 and £50,000 each to resolve.

Chemicals being added to Leigh Canal following pollution incident

All of our waterways are vulnerable to pollution, from small accidental spills that quickly disperse to major problems causing significant damage to the environment.

I've seen pollution, who should I report it to?

If you see pollution on one of our canals or rivers, please report it.

  • During office hours, call us on 0303 040 4040
  • Outside of office hours, use our emergency contact details (0800 47 999 47)
  • If it's a major pollution incident (for example, something causing fish or other wildlife distress), please call either the Environment Agency for England on 0800 80 70 60 or Natural Resources Wales on 0300 065 3000.

What information will I need to give?

When you call us to report a pollution incident, please pass on as much of the following information as possible. This will help us respond to the incident quickly.

  • The name of the canal, waterway or reservoir affected by the pollution
  • The exact location of the incident (e.g. number of the nearest lock, bridge or road)
  • The extent and appearance of the pollution (e.g. colour, odour, etc)
  • The potential source of the pollution, if it is apparent
  • Whether there are any distressed or dead fish, birds or animals affected by the pollution
  • Whether you have already reported the incident to the Environment Agency, and if so please let us know the incident number assigned by the Environment Agency
  • Your contact number, in case we need any further information

How do you respond to reports of pollution?

Our local teams respond to all reports to take whatever reasonable measures we can to contain and minimise the impacts 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. For less serious pollution incidents, we will look after containing and minimising the impacts of pollution.

What else can be done to help prevent pollution?

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

Last Edited: 07 December 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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