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 aimed to 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 plug hole.

Groundwork led on an 'Only Rain down the drain' schools education programme. In 2014 and again 2017, Groundwork worked with six Luton schools to raise awareness of water pollution in the town. Schools had the opportunity to take part in;

  • School assemblies
  • Field trips to local Brooks
  • Citizen science river monitoring activities - pupils collected data on the pH, phosphates and dissolved oxygen in the water and recorded the type of aquatic animals living there.
  • An inter-school conference on tackling the challenges to water quality and quantity
  • Poster competitions - pupils entered their own poster designs to raise awareness of these issues and took part in winners' assemblies
  • The Big Count, river celebration event in Wardown Park

The winning posters were displayed around Luton and the above design was featured on mugs and tea towels to promote and support message 'Only Rain Down the Drain'. Pupils were also provided with tea towels featuring the winner poster.

"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 pollution and 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 East
Project partners: Environment Agency, Luton Borough Council, Thames Water
Funding source: Thames Water Community Investment Fund & Environment Agency
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.