On Tuesday 23rd April one of our Facebook followers, Claire Stiefel, messaged us to say that her dog Maggie had been in the stream the evening before and she had noticed that her fur felt greasy and had an oily smell. She had to take her to the vet and was concerned other dogs could also be affected. Thankfully Maggie was ok but Claire was quite right to raise the alarm.
After we published the stream pollution alert it transpired quite a few dogs had been sick as a result of wandering into the steam. Our update encouraged owners to take their dogs to the vet. What’s more, a local resident’s grandson had played in the stream and had come out in a bad rash. It was clear action had to be taken.
We immediately notified Bromley Council who informed us it wasn’t a matter for them but more for the Environment Agency. We sensed this could drag on unless prompt action was taken so we reached out to Caroll, our contact at Idverde for advice. She is a fountain of knowledge for quite a lot of Friends groups in Bromley and she immediately sprung into action.
Caroll went to investigate and sent pictures to Thames Water as in the first instance it looked as though there was a disconnected pipe along the culvert. Gemma Ramsden (the FOBOS Chairwoman) went to the stream on Caroll’s advice and put up posters warning people to avoid entering the stream whilst investigations were carried out.
Thames Water came out on 26th April 2019 and used specialist cameras to check the culvert. They confirmed to Caroll it wasn’t a disconnect pipe but looked like an isolated incident of someone dumping something into the stream. Thames Water was great and cleaned up the stream to the best of their abilities. We believe with the clean up and recent rain, the stream should be clear now.
Whilst it was infuriating that anyone could be so callous as to pollute a stream loved and used by local residents, their children and their dogs, something really positive came out of this. Local residents joined together and shared updates if they saw something happening or received any news, such as Suzanna Croft (a facebook follower) updating us when she saw Thames Water onsite. People warned family, friends and neighbours of the problem to help keep everyone (and every dog) safe!
The irony of our most recent survey isn’t lost on us. We asked on 9th April what locals would like to see next; a cleanup of the stream or a clearing of the footpath between the woods and Kemnal. Of the 20 votes we received, 65% voted for a cleanup of the stream. Therefore, we hope to work with Idverde to arrange a community day where locals can pull on their wellies and join us to clear the stream of any littler and debris to ensure it is a habitat that can be enjoyed by nature as well as locals.
We’ll keep you posted when we have a date for the stream cleanup and we really hope to see you there. Thanks again to everyone who came together to help resolve this.