We’re still polluting the Moselle: isn’t it time to understand the Brook?

John Miles

Wet wipes drying on the outflow grille at Lordship Rec
Sewage fungus at the silt trap on the Moselle Brook

For five years the Haringey Rivers Forum has campaigned for the restoration of the Moselle Brook. Bring it out of its culverts into the open. For a long time the smell and evident pollution in the restored section at Lordship Rec has served as a deterrent. It was thought the problem lay exclusively with the Alexandra Primary School’s misconnected toilets. But they were finally fixed – after a seven year wait - in February 2019. Testing at the Rec last summer showed water quality to be improving.

But this year the terrible cloudiness has returned and the Friends of Lordship Rec have been raising the alarm with Haringey Council who are monitoring the test results. Recent site visits with Arup and Thames 21 have supported these concerns - which have recently become more urgent. Last month Thames 21 reported a pollution incident to the Environment Agency and took the matter directly to Thames Water who are responsible for maintaining the sewers. Well done all.

But now there’s a new development. The dense vegetation in the channel at the Rec serves to clean up the Brook. But last week Thames Water had to investigate a report of pollution downstream at Tottenham Cemetery. They went on to meet the Friends of Lordship Rec in the park and found very high readings of ammonium nitrate. They first traced the problem back towards Turnpike Lane and then located it here on our patch in Alexandra Road, clearing a blockage to the foul sewer which they think was spilling over into the surface water system (unlike inner London, Haringey has separate drainage systems).

But the story doesn’t end there. Thames Water have been surprised to find the link to the Moselle from the sewers near Turnpike Lane. They plan to look up the old maps and records to get a better understanding of what’s going on!

Wet wipes drying on the outflow grille at Lordship Rec
Wet wipes drying on the outflow grille at Lordship Rec

This year the Haringey Rivers Forum proposed a catchment restoration plan. Pull together all the duties and powers, collect and share the data, get a comprehensive picture of the Brook and involve the public.

As it is the statutory bodies don’t know what’s going on and only talk to each other ad hoc when things go wrong. Do Haringey politicians have the political will to step up and sort this out? The building blocks are there – a strategy for green and blue space before the Cabinet, Thames Water pledged to investigate the drainage systems in Noel Park, Thames 21 ready to monitor water quality, Arup allowing their senior water scientist to get involved and examine the Moselle Brook catchment.

Flooding, pollution, habitat restoration, climate change and the urban heat island. Surely, councillors, it all adds up?

2 comments on “We’re still polluting the Moselle: isn’t it time to understand the Brook?”

  1. The government will soon be publishing guidance on 'Local Nature Recovery Strategies' - these will be spatial maps of existing biodiversity, and areas where there is a deficit, and also identifying how to introduce 'connectivity'.
    Water courses like the Moselle and other culverted streams are some of the best forms of connectivity and will need to be identified, protected and enhanced.

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