Clean Water Campaign

by Harrison Hunter in Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Clean Water Campaign

Total raised £825

raised so far



Through the Clean Water Campaign, I hope to collectively raise awareness and funding to serve important action for our water quality.

by Harrison Hunter in Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom


I’m Harrison, I’m from Cornwall and in August I’ll be attempting the challenge of swimming the length of Windermere in the Windermere One Way Swim Challenge #wow. As an elite athlete and sport physiologist, I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors, heavily invested in climate and environmental action. Initially the project began as a drunken challenge set out by myself and friend Dave  (who will also be swimming, into the distance most probably). But as I’ve increased my time training and spent more time in our seas, rivers, and lakes I have discovered the worrying truths that exist.


Why the Clean Water Campaign?

Clean water, that’s a given right? We expect it. We expect people to be dealing with this for us, but do enough of us understand the problems occurring? I certainly didn’t and still don’t fully. I’ve witnessed first-hand the worrying levels of sewage pollution, the dangerously high levels of blue-green algae in our lakes and the lack of biodiversity in our rivers. And that’s just me in my first few months entering the world of wild swimming. 


I quickly realised that if I’m going to be spending many hours in Windermere’s so called “clear” waters, (~8 hours I hope) then why am I not doing something about the problems Windermere is currently facing. This is where the clean water campaign began. I am targeting, along my journey as a swimmer, to raise awareness on the key issues, educate where I can and support the amazing work currently going on in the background to save our waters. I want to help the countless charities and organisations working tirelessly for us, for our water. 


Chosen charities.

Now here starts the first challenge. Being from Cornwall I’m surrounded by the sea, beautiful beaches, tidal coves, the list goes on. I’m a frequent wild swimmer, making sure to get a dip in most weeks (throughout the winter especially). During these changes in season, I’ve noticed many changes in the water quality. Yes, we can attribute a lot of murky water to storms and big tides, but this isn’t the issue. The overflows, sewage spills, heavy agricultural run-off, these are a common occurrence especially during heavy rain periods. The problem is, what are we doing about it? Instead of holding our hands up and saying “Yes we have a problem here, we’re working to fix it” we’re blaming others, washing it away (excuse the pun). Is this because we don’t care? Generally speaking, no. But we’re acting like we don’t care, until it hits us in the face... literally. 


Anyway, enough of me and my love for Cornwall, the serious stuff. 




Below are three charities I will be raising money for along my journey, this isn’t to say others aren’t worthy of support, absolutely not. But to not dilute money or focus I’ve chosen these charities because they are closely related to where I live, where I train and where I will be swimming in August. I will divide the total money raised in three equal donations to the charities/ organisations below. 


Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) 

Firstly, a very important charity local to me, based in Wheal Kitty Cornwall, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). SAS have been leading activists in the fight for clean water since the 90’s, having grown into one of the UK’s most successful marine conservation and campaigning charities, producing educational programmes, and building a community that cares for the planet. With their recently introduced and free to download app, Safer Seas & Rivers Service, SAS are leading the way in providing up to date information relating to pollution, real time surf conditions, beach facilities, river, and sea checker and even ways you can alert your local MP to pollution in your area without the hassle. 


Here are four key areas in which your donation will fund important action. 


  • World-leading water quality legislation

Your donation will help campaign for sewage legislation that sets ambitious and legally binding targets to end untreated sewage discharge in all bathing waters by 2023 and to reduce all untreated sewage discharges by 90% by 2030!! 


  • An enhanced water-quality testing regime

To invest in accurate real-time water quality information available all-year round for all UK inland and coastal bathing areas as well as popular water usage areas. Along with enhanced, world leading testing regimes to give a true picture of the UK’s water quality, testing for emerging threats to humans such as antibiotic resistant bacteria, viruses, microplastics and the effects pollution is having on the environment. 


  • Investment from Water Companies and other systemic polluters

To demand investment from water companies, the agricultural industry, and other systemic polluters to urgently invest in new sewage infrastructure and amend practices to improve water quality and for the government to provide effective support to encourage this! 


  • Nature-based solutions to sewage pollution

To increase investment and associated targets for the restoration of natural habitats to reduce pressure on the water systems and help prevent sewage overflows. 


A third of the money I raise will be put straight into action on these four core solutions to continue to build on the existing work already done. If you want to do your own research and learn more about all three charities there are quick links at the bottom of the page. 




Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) 

My next chosen charity is the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA). The FBA are a non-governmental organisation and charitable trust dedicated to understanding and conserving freshwaters across the globe. Based in Newby Bridge, Cumbria is partly another reason for my support, however the work and leading research they undertake is vital in maintaining our fresh waters across the UK and the rest of the world. The FBA’s three main points of attack are outlined below; 


  • Freshwaters sustaining people and nature.

The FBA deliver citizen science projects that enable and engage hundreds of participants in vital freshwater research and analysis. By supporting the FBA, you become a part of the custodianship of internationally important scientific collections and historical datasets that provide vital information to freshwater scientists around the world. 


  • Responding to the climate crisis 

Climate change is putting unprecedented pressure on our environment and its biodiversity. Freshwaters are at a critically high risk from climate change and although freshwater ecosystems host 10 times the biodiversity per area than land or sea, they are often overlooked. There has never been a more urgent time to support the FBA in their fight to protect these ecosystems. 


  • Working to reverse the decline in freshwater biodiversity.

This is achieved by increasing peoples understanding, learning and participation in freshwater ecology. Being independent of the government their work can inspire change, influence policy and champion the value of freshwater science with key informed decisions.


This is an important time for the Freshwater Biological Association, and they need all our support. A few links are attached below where you can find past research undertaken by the FBA, donate towards specific future projects, and get involved yourself.  




Save Windermere by Matt Staniek

Finally, Windermere. I left this till last because I want this to be the lasting message you take away from this short introduction into the world of clean water campaigning. 


In 2019 Windermere recorded 7 million visitors to its shores. Is this surprising? The Lake district lay claim to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the UK, Europe and arguably the world, right on our doorstep. Naturally a lot of us are going to want to enjoy some of this beauty, understandably. However, have you thought what occurs when 7million people travel through these small towns?


There are 4 United Utilities wastewater treatment works in the surrounding 5 miles of Windermere. Ambleside, built to maintain operation for ~5000 people, Grasmere built for 2700 people, Hawkshead 824 people and Far Sawrey 250 people. 8,774 is the total amount of peoples sewage the wastewater treatment works are designed to cope with.. slightly under the 7million visitors that arrived in 2019. Why? There are many reasons for this. However, 10 years ago a decision was made on cost, not to invest in the removal of United Utilities discharges. This decision has caused a serious problem that needs immediate action. Untreated sewage adds phosphorus, phosphorus creates algal blooms, these blooms starve the lake of dissolved oxygen that ultimately kills all life within the lake. It’s that serious. 


To rebalance the nutrient levels, we must act now, we have to stop sewage inputs into the lake. 



This is not aimed to partial blame towards any of us, I’m not telling you we’re all doomed or that we’re in a catastrophe, but explaining the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. If I can make it more accessible for more of us to have influence and impact. Ultimately, that is all we can do. If each one of us can learn, educate, and provide necessary financial commitment to begin to reverse the issues we face we are on the right path to achieving clean water for all of us. 


Appendices/ donation links

If you want to do your own research here are the links to all my chosen charities, the race I am taking part in and other useful links to familiarise yourself with.

Surfers Against Sewage – Be part of the movement.


Freshwater Biological Association (FBA)


 Save Windermere by Matt Staniek


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