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Report a problem with watercourses

Everyone is responsible for protecting our watercourses, their wildlife and users from the impacts of pollution and littering. This ensures our watercourses are free from litter and waste and have good water quality. We need your help to report issues with our watercourses.

Who do we work with?

We work in partnership with the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water, the Canal & River Trust and our Leicester Environmental Volunteers to achieve this.

Report pollution in watercourses

Dropping litter (including fly-tipping), garden waste, oil or chemicals into watercourses or disposing of these in the drains in our streets is a criminal offence. This is because of the damage it can cause to water quality and wildlife. Also, litter and waste thrown into watercourses can cause blockages and lead to flooding.

You can report any pollution incidents on watercourses to the Environment Agency:

Report fly-tipping

You can report fly-tipping to us:

If your property has a watercourse passing through your land (including any piped section of watercourse), you may be responsible for maintaining it under riparian ownership. This may include watercourses that are at the back of your garden on the opposite side of the fence. Any pollution that is traced back to a section of watercourse under riparian ownership will be considered the responsibility of the landowner, which could lead to fines and prosecution.  

Feeding human food to wild animals

Overfeeding human food (such as bread and rice) to wild animals can cause several life-threatening illnesses, encourage pests (rats, mice, etc.) and increase the risk of illness and disease in humans. Instead feed the animals natural foods, like seeds, oats and vegetables such as peas, sweetcorn and lettuce. 

Religious food offerings are considered fly-tipping because they have negative effects on water quality. They can change the chemical balance of a watercourse over time, having a detrimental effect on our water environment, its plants and its animals. You can find out further information at: Using our parks.

Syringes and hypodermic needles

Syringes and hypodermic needles are used to inject medication but are also used to inject illegal drugs. They are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of correctly. However, when they are used to inject illegal drugs it is common that they are thrown away as litter where they are used. As a result, these tend to be found on or near riverbanks our watercourses, parks and isolated areas within the city.

We are responsible for keeping the city clean and this includes the removal of syringes and hypodermic needles. If you find any syringes and hypodermic needles, do not touch them! Because they are a source of disease and infection, in particular HIV and hepatitis. Report them on Report an environmental issue and one of our officers will organise its safe removal and disposal.

If you believe you have injured yourself or come into contact with a used needle or syringe, you need to seek urgent medical attention. Find out what you should do if you injure yourself with a used needle - NHS.UK.

Magnetic fishing

Magnetic fishing is the practice of using fishing rods with magnets attached to collect and remove metal items from watercourses. Although finding pieces of history is the main attraction, the activity can be extremely dangerous.

Items that are removed can be sharp as well as contaminated with industrial pollution and harmful diseases. These items are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of in accordance the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 ( In rare cases items could be unexploded (bombs), which must be disposed of by the emergency services. This creates immense pressure on local emergency services and puts the wider community at risk.

Canal & Rivers Trust’s byelaws (specifically Byelaw 41 (d)) forbids the removal of any material from a canal, and as a result magnetic fishing is considered illegal on a canal.

Leicester City Council does not recommend magnetic fishing for these reasons.

Report an animal in distress

If you see an animal in distress and its life is in danger contact the RSPCA using Report Cruelty | RSPCA or call: 0300 1234 999. 

Report a dead animal

If you identify a dead animal this can be reported to us:

Report other pollution incidents