Not the latest invader of our streams and rivers, but a badge of honour being promoted by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country. They are asking people to check that their dishwashers, washing machines and sinks are properly connected to the sewers. If they are the Trust is inviting people to put the Yellow Fish logo on their drains to demonstrate this. The connections are important because if machines are wrongly connected the dirty water they discharge could be going straight into local watercourses. Most properties have both types of drains and there is evidence of many misconnections, either caused by the ignorance of do-it-yourself plumbers, or the negligence and incompetence of contractors.
This is a good time to address this issue. The wildlife of our stream, rivers and ponds is at its busiest. Frogs, toads and newts have returned to the water to spawn and young tadpoles are emerging to feed. Waterside birds, such as ducks, moorhens and kingfishers, are laying eggs and raising chicks, fish are spawning and dragonfly larvae are approaching the time of their emergence. The last thing all these creatures need is a dose of dirty water.
Another factor is the summer. Even though the drought has been averted problems always increase in the summer because lower levels and warmer water magnify the effects of pollution. This is because the ratio of polluted water to clean water is much higher - there is less dilution. Warmer weather and low oxygen levels, plus pollution, equals dirty smelly water in our nature reserves and open spaces making them much less amenable to people as well as to wildlife. In addition to the unpleasantness there may be risks to health as well.
The Trust campaign is based on its work with many schools in Birmingham and the Black Country. They have been checking the schools' plumbing. This has the added advantage that the children are being made aware of the problems so that hopefully they can avoid them when they become householders.
There is a website to help you to understand and address the problem. It is www.connectright.org.uk run by The Connect Right Campaign. The partners in this campaign include the water companies through Water UK, the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and CIPHE (the professional body for plumbing and heating engineers).
The Environment Agency and local councils have the power to prosecute those responsible for pollution. No matter who did the work you may be responsible if your property is misconnected. How much better for you and for your local environment if you know everything is in order, and can proudly display a Yellow Fish.