RESIDENTS and businesses with off-mains sewage treatment systems are urged to support the “Call of Nature Yorkshire” campaign to help improve water quality in rivers and seas.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the environmental hazard caused by poorly maintained septic tanks, cesspits and package treatment plants and what people can do to help protect their environment.

This year the campaign is focusing on the River Esk and surrounding coastal streams catchment, which includes many northern areas of the North York Moors National Park.

These waterways are home to some of our rarest species, including the endangered freshwater pearl mussel, water voles, otters and Atlantic salmon.

However, water quality in some areas is not as good as it should be, putting these fragile ecosystems at risk.

Kate Bailey, catchment partnership officer, said: “Although we are fortunate our river habitats support such an array of wildlife, we know that some of our watercourses are affected by elevated levels of the nutrient phosphate, which can enter watercourses from non-mains sewage treatment systems in rural communities.

“Common sources of phosphate include dishwasher and laundry detergents, human sewage, animal manures and ‘wash-off’ from agricultural fields and farmyards.”

The project is being funded by the Environment Agency, working in partnership with the North York Moors National Park Authority and the Yorkshire Esk Rivers Trust.

Dr Katie Aspray, Environment Agency project manager, said: “Households and businesses with septic tanks and package treatment plants are responsible for meeting legal requirements, termed ‘general binding rules’, which ensure systems are maintained properly and do not cause pollution.

“We want everyone to know

that they can play a part in protecting the North York Moors, its rivers, seas and wildlife by ensuring they comply with these regulations and being mindful about what goes down their drains.”

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