Starting an Action Group
Some useful tips for getting started
As an individual starting out to improve your local watercourse, concentrate first of all on any potentially serious problems. You just may become aware of something no-one else knows about. Sewage and other pollution is often the commonest and potentially most serious problem, to both wildlife and human populations.
Observe, report, record and if possible photograph (but don’t touch) any problems. Make a note of any ‘incident numbers’ given to you by the Environment Agency (EA).
Inform key regulatory organisations, EA, OFWAT, local council Environmental Health of any problems.
Contact your local water company and advise them of any problems.
Find out if anybody else shares your concerns or wishes.
Contact your local elected representatives (county, district, parish councillors, member of parliament), see if they are aware of any problems and steps that may be in hand to resolve them. (They should be your best source of advice about any others who might share your concerns).
Be calm, measured and informed in your approach to third parties.
Try to keep any potentially divisive beliefs (party politics, religion, etc), worthy though they may be, separate from your activities.
Take the widest possible view of all the relevant issues, sometimes it is best to listen before saying too much.
Make contact with local landowners, especially riparian owners, demonstrate to them that you are responsible, are acting in their interest, and remember watercourses often pass through strictly private property with no right of public access. Ask permission and tread carefully here! Ask landowners if they would support and join an action group.
Remember, everyone potentially can contribute something useful to your group’s activities, and probably uniquely so, even if its delivering leaflets.
Once your group is started – let Water21 know!
We’ll direct any enquiries and like minded individuals in your area to you. And keep you posted on the latest news and views. We’ll feed back news of your activities to other groups.
Form a co-ordinating committee, adopt a constitution, and develop a wish list and strategy to implement it.
Explore alliances with other local groups working in related fields to yours; investigate forming an informal (or formal) partnership between your group and others. Try to complement rather than duplicate other group’s activities.
Try to hold regular meetings.
Develop a newsletter, website and a programme of events. Set up display material for local events and arrange your own.
Send out press releases to local media informing them of problems, your group’s activities and any developments.
Develop contacts with local educational establishments, from primary schools to universities; you might be able to get help with research into the problems and any potential solutions relating to your project.
Organise a ‘clean up’ day for your watercourse, removing rubbish is a great start. But take care, wear at least gloves & boots; wash carefully after contact with water. Please read the safety note.
Build up a picture of the history of your watercourse. The local libraries, museums and archive records office can be a useful start, as is talking to older members of the community who might have invaluable recollections.
If your support group has any particular technical problems or queries, please feel free to contact us by email. Also if we have a good student available we can often provide bursary funds to support a dedicated local study on your groups behalf.