Our work in the Tidal Ribble area is delivered in partnership with United Utilities, the Environment Agency, Catchment Sensitive Farming, the National Farmers Union and Blackpool Council. Since 2015 we have been working with farmers and rural communities to protect vulnerable bathing waters and shellfish waters in the Ribble Estuary and along the Fylde coast.
What can you do to help?
You can help us in our quest to improve these valuable waters by taking a few simple actions…
What are we doing?
Research has identified that the main impact on the water quality is faecal matter and other pollution from both urban and rural sources. The main causes of this diffuse pollution are runoff from agricultural land and property and discharges from private septic tanks.
Based on this knowledge we worked with a group of 20 farmers in the area, carrying out surveys of their land and property and developing plans to carry out works such as watercourse fencing, drainage improvements and improvements to slurry stores.
These improvements have been made to benefit the water quality whilst also being compatible with the farm business.
Domestic septic tanks and private water treatment facilities have also been identified as a problem in this area and a targeted campaign has been created in order to help people within these communities better understand how their systems work, how they can be maintained and what the consequences can be when these systems fail.
Throughout the life of this project water samples will be taken to assess faecal matter inputs and to see how well the project is performing.
What else have we done?
As well as engaging with individuals we have delivered family events which explore our relationship with water and worked with Lytham St Annes Civic Society to commission two stone carvings which are located within the newly restored Mussel Tank near Lytham green. The two sculptures were carved by local sculptor and Master Carver Martyn Bednarczuk in stone sourced from Lancashire’s Brinscall Quarry, the same quarry that supplies stone for the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. The stone used to create the mussel is a very hard siliceous sandstone or gritstone. When viewed from different angles, the mussel sculpture has been described as looking porpoise or dolphin like.
The carving in the flower bed features the former motto of King Edward VII school, which means ‘raised from the waves’, and symbolises the inter-dependent relationship of the estuary and the people of Lytham.
The mussel tanks were opened in 1935 to clean mussels before they were sold for eating and were needed as the rivers and estuaries of the North West had become polluted by industry. Although water quality has improved, our river and estuarine ecosystems are still fragile and need careful management and positive action by us all to ensure we have clean water and abundant wildlife for future generations.
We have also created a River Walk which explores Lytham and the estuary. The walk will have an accompanying digital walk guide and interpretation panels containing further information about the area and wildlife. The digital walk guides are downloadable through our Ribble Life app, which is available on both Apple and Android, and contains additional photos, videos and audio recordings.