8. Only Rain Down the Drain

Themes: Community engagement and participation; Improving water quality and water quantity


  • Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
  • Increase public access to and involvement in the river
  • Promote the river as a community and educational resource
  • Promote action to reduce households' water consumption and pollution
  • Work together to investigate and implement solutions to manage and minimise sources of pollution
  • Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements

Project description

What goes down your drain can end up in the River Lea, damaging wildlife and putting our health at risk. Everyone can help reduce this pollution by checking for misconnections and remembering that only rain goes down the drain! 

This project helps increase understanding about the impact each of us has on the quality of the water in the river. We can all make changes - large or small - to reduce pollution, whether that's fixing misconnections or remembering not to pour cooking oil down the plughole.

There are three parts to the project: education in schools and to the general public; working with landlords (private and social) to identify and correct misconnections issues; and working with local businesses to promote the Watersafe or similar tradesman schemes.

In 2017, we have been working with three more Luton schools. This year, following their field trips, the pupils have taken part in a competition to design a campaign poster to deliver a behaviour change message across the town. The winning poster has been printed onto tea towels which will be given out to all those pupils and schools involved in the project.

The three schools will be united at the end of the project at The Big Count event on Friday 6 October, where they will enjoy a water-themed quiz, have their posters judged by a panel of experts and take part in fun games to conclude their study of the River Lea.

In 2014, Groundwork worked with three Luton schools to raise awareness of water pollution in the town. Following field trips to Lewsey Brook, and an inter-school conference on tackling the challenges to water quality and quantity, the pupils entered a competition with their own poster designs to raise awareness of these issues.

The winning posters were displayed around Luton and the above design was featured on mugs to promote and support the Environment Agency's message 'Only Rain Down the Drain'.

"We wanted to encourage the students to take a look at the environment that's on their doorstep. It was brilliant to work with other schools in the area, especially when we got together for a conference about how to tackle important environmental issues and then again for the judging of the poster competition.

"The project made converts of some of my pupils – one of them has even decided that encouraging her family to think more carefully about pollutionand their water usage isn't enough; she wants to tackle these issues in the whole of Pakistan, where her family comes from!"

- Hannah Potter, (then) Year 7 Geography Teacher at Challney High School for Girls.

You can read more about this project on our news feed.


Project lead: Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire
Project partners: Environment Agency, Luton Borough Council, Thames Water
Funding source: Thames Water Community Investment Fund
Contact for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Schools go on field trips to the River Lea during the project

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.