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Report a problem with watercourses

Everyone is responsible for protecting our watercourses, wildlife and everyone who interacts with them from the impacts of pollution and littering. This ensures our watercourses have good water quality, which are free from litter and waste. We work in partnership with Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water, the Canal & River Trust and our Leicester environmental volunteers to achieve this. But we need your help to report any of the issues outlined below.

Report pollution in watercourses

Dropping litter (including fly-tipping and garden waste), oil, and chemicals into watercourses or disposing of these in the drains in our streets is a criminal offence because of the damage it can cause to water quality as well as 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 to us:

If your property has a watercourse passing through your land (including a piped section of watercourse), you may be responsible for maintaining the watercourse 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.  

  • Find out if you’re a riparian owner and your maintenance responsibilities at GOV.UK.
  • Find out more about how to become a environmental volunteer

Feeding human food to animals

Food offerings are also considered as fly-tipping as they have a range of negative effects on the water quality. They can change the chemical balance over time, having a detrimental effect on our water environment and its plants and animals.

Mass feeding of human food (such as bread and rice) to wildlife can cause several life-threatening illnesses, our wildlife doesn’t benefit in any way from regular supplies of human food. Instead feed the animals natural foods, like seeds, oats and vegetables such as peas, sweetcorn and lettuce. 

Syringes and hypodermic needles

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

We are responsible for keeping the city clean through a city cleansing programme. This includes the removal of syringes and hypodermic needles.

If you identify syringes and hypodermic needles, do not touch them because used needles are a source of disease and infection, in particular HIV and hepatitis. You must report them online using the fly-tipping details above. 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 more at 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 the allure of finding pieces of history is the main attraction, the activity can be extremely dangerous. Items that are removed can be sharp and contaminated with industrial pollution and harmful diseases. In some cases it could be unexploded ordinance, which then requires emergency assistance from various agencies. This creates immense pressure on local emergency services and places the wider community at risk.

Anything removed from the watercourse is considered hazardous waste. Therefore hazardous to residents, plants and wildlife. Any waste removed from a watercourse must be disposed of in accordance with hazardous waste regulations.

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 illegal on a canal.

We do not recommend magnetic fishing for these reasons. Please see Canal & Rivers Trust’s website for further information.

Report an animal in distress

If you see an animal in distress and its life is in danger contact the RSPCA using the details below:

Report a dead animal

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

Report other pollution incidents