Celebration of clean water and slap up fish and chip feast in Shap

A ‘thank you’ do with a difference!

While it is normal for organisations to have an end of year celebration, 16 of the people who have volunteered to help Eden Rivers Trust in 2013 were given a rather unusual reward to end the year, a guided tour of Shap’s sewage works!

You might think that’s a bit of crappy place for a year-end get-together, but the Trust came up with the idea of the tour of the  works because they wanted to demonstrate the important role United Utilities plays in protecting the river.  Eden Rivers Trust is a charity concerned with the conservation of the River Eden and its miles of tributaries in the Eden Valley.  It relies heavily on volunteers to help with its work.  Volunteers have been involved in projects such as surveying for fish and crayfish, removing litter and invasive plants along rivers and planting trees along river banks.

Water quality is important in the Eden catchment and  Shap's new sewage works is exceptionally effective. The ERT group saw United Utilities’ state-of-the-art facilities in operation.

Water quality is important in the Eden catchment and Shap’s new sewage works is exceptionally effective. The ERT group saw United Utilities’ state-of-the-art facilities in operation.

United Utilities’ Christine Fleming said it was good to be able to show off the great work being done at Shap, which was fitted with some of the company’s most cutting-edge equipment – the membrane bio reactor (MBR).

“Shap has our only membrane bio reactor, this treats water to an extremely high standard. They’re not suitable everywhere, but it’s just what we need in Shap because the beck is particularly sensitive. We’re very proud of our plant and it was lovely to show how it works to people who share our concern for the environment,” she said.

Shap’s waste water treatment works were completely rebuilt in 2011 and reopened as the old plant was decommissioned.  Shap’s  new £13 million plant takes sewage and other waste water from the Shap area, treats it and, unlike conventional waste water treatment plants, filters the outflow through a fine membrane (equipment supplied by GE) to clean the water before it returns to Shap Beck, a tributary of the River Leith that in turn flows into the Eden, with sensitive freshwater ecology throughout. This cleaner water benefits wildlife and people.

In periods of heavy rainfall, the  plant catches the excess water that would otherwise overflow dangerous effluent into the beck, for storage in a large tank, before pumping it back to discharge safely through the MBR. 

United Utilities’ Christine Fleming said it was good to be able to show off the great work being done at Shap, which was fitted with some of the company’s most cutting-edge equipment – the membrane bio reactor (MBR) supplied by GE.

“Shap has our only membrane bio reactor, this treats water to an extremely high standard. They’re not suitable everywhere, but it’s just what we need in Shap because the beck is particularly sensitive. We’re very proud of our plant and it was lovely to show how it works to people who share our concern for the environment,” she said.

The volunteers enjoyed their very different reward and Dave Greaves, a student at Cumbria University who has helped the Trust with crayfish and fish surveys, said, “It was very interesting.  We are all “customers” of the waste water facilities but usually we never think about it!”

Joanne Backshall, Conservation Officer at Eden Rivers Trust, said, “We are so grateful to all the volunteers who have helped us this year and we wanted to give them a fun and informative outing as a thank you.  It was a fascinating visit and a real eye opener about what goes on.  There was also valuable information for us and the work we do in improving the rivers in the Eden Valley.”

The trip ended with a delicious meal at the Shap Chippy which the volunteers agreed lived up to its reputation as being one of the best in the county!

Eden Rivers Trust Volunteers celebrating a year of good conservation work at Shap's excellent Fish and Chip shop.

Eden Rivers Trust volunteers celebrating a year of good conservation work at Shap’s excellent Fish and Chip shop. Cleaner river water leads to  a healthier marine ecosystem that provides the Chippy’s succulent  fish.

You can find out more about Eden Rivers Trust from their website www.edenriverstrust.org.uk

You can read the Shap MBR case study on PDF by clicking here.

ERT is currently recruiting apprentices see article here

C. Paxton received no payment for this article.

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