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Posted: Sunday 11th August 2013 by Living Rivers

How old were you when you first started caring about the environment? Seeing as you’re on the Wildlife Trust website and are reading this blog, I’m assuming you’re aware of and interested in at least some of the challenges facing our natural world. But what sparked this interest? For me, it was spending time in the Yorkshire Dales, near where I grew up; long summer days spent exploring limestone pavements and catching river bugs in old yoghurt pots. For many people, I imagine it was a particularly inspirational teacher, classroom nature table or school trip that planted the seed.

I’m thinking about this because I’ve just got back from a morning at Hertingfordbury Cowper Primary School. A few months ago I was invited to do a lesson on rivers and the problems they face from pollution and poor water quality. The class (‘Rowan’) really impressed me with their knowledge and enthusiasm for the river, and their concern about its future.

Things have rather taken off since then! The event I attended this morning was part of the Environment Agency’s ‘Yellow Fish’ project, which aims to raise awareness of the pollution issues surrounding road drains. Not many people realise that these surface water drains often lead straight to the nearest watercourse – in this case the Mimram – and that chemicals poured down these drains can end up, untreated and unfiltered, in our local rivers. The Yellow Fish project encourages local communities and schools to (with permission!) paint yellow fish next to surface water drains, to raise awareness of this problem.

Rowan Class and their teacher had organised a launch of this project locally, attended by myself, East Herts District Council and the Environment Agency. The sun shone, the fish were painted and the children gave some fantastic speeches about why this issue was so important for the health of our rivers. It's great that these children are so passionate about the health of their local river, and I hope that, for at least some of them, it's the start of a lifelong interest.

And remember - 'Only Rain Down the Drain'!

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