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You are here: Home Page > Leisure and Culture > Parks and Open Spaces > Water Courses

Water Courses

Water courses include rivers, lakes, privately owned ponds, canals and coastal waters. They are often visited as recreation facilities by members of the public, and also used as sources of water for industrial use and the public water supply. Most of them exist as balanced ecosystems and are monitored by the Environment Agency. They are natural environments, with communities of flora and fauna, which have the potential to cause harm to humans. The waters are therefore unlikely to be safe to drink.

Controls are in place to ensure protection against flooding, as far as practicable, and to minimise the risk of pollution of water and deterioration in its quality. Enquiries regarding quality, or reports of contamination should be made directly to the Environment Agency. Telephone their 24 hour helpline number: 0645 333111.

If you own land which is adjacent to a river or watercourse, you are likely to have certain responsibilities in relation to it. These relate to litter and obstructions, extraction from and discharge into the water. You are likely to require consent from the Environment Agency before carrying out any works on or near the bank. You are, however, entitled to protect your property from flooding and the banks from erosion. In general you accept water from your upstream neighbour and pass it on to your neighbour downstream in at least the same condition. Contact the Environment Agency for further information.

Sometimes inland waters are affected by the excessive growth of naturally occurring algae. The most common situation involves blue-green algae which can cause algal blooms on lakes and slow-flowing rivers. The effect of this is to discolour the water, and sometimes to cause a local odour. The algae produces toxins which can be fatal to fish, wild animals, livestock and pets. Humans can experience rashes, eye irritation, vomiting or fever if they come into contact with, or drink, affected waters. Public information signs may be in place, but people using recreational waters should take sensible precautions:  

(a) Where possible avoid contact with the water;  
(b) Do not enter waters where a visible bloom is evident;  
(c) Change and shower after accidental contact with the water;  
(d) Rinse your mouth with clean water, do not swallow, induce vomiting if a significant 
     quality has been swallowed.  
(e) Keep pets away from the water.

 

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Bedford Borough is a vibrant area to live in with an abundance of leisure opportunities for residents and visitors. We pride ourselves on offering a fantastic programme of cultural events throughout the year, and providing a wide range of affordable health opportunities, through our quality parks, award winning leisure centres and sports development work.

 


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