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Council turns to nature to clean polluted water collected from Leicestershire’s roads

Water and waste from gullies can be difficult to deal with as it can contain pollutants.

Cabinet member Cllr Ozzy O'Shea (far right) and highways support member Cllr Maggie Wright (far left) at the Croft Depot, with Director of Highways Ann Carruthers and Assistant Director Pat Clarke
Cabinet member Cllr Ozzy O'Shea (far right) and highways support member Cllr Maggie Wright (far left) at the Croft Depot, with Director of Highways Ann Carruthers and Assistant Director Pat Clarke

Plants and artificially created salt marshes are being used to clean oils, diesel and chemicals in water collected from Leicestershire’s road gullies in a new environmental scheme.

Leicestershire County Council has set up a ‘living water’ operation at its Croft highways depot to treat water it collects from drains.

The living water scheme involves tankers collecting the waste, which is then taken to Croft.

The tankers place the waste into bays where a weir system allows the water to drain through straw which is a natural filter and removes a high percentage of oils, hydrocarbons, salts and silt.

The water is then passed through three engineered ponds where salt marsh plants and the bacteria and micro-organisms that live in them remove the remaining pollutants. 

This clean water then flows into the Broughton Astley Brook which feeds into the River Soar.

Solid remnant waste such as stones, sand, metals, and plastics are removed and recycled.

Some of the material is then used in land restoration projects, removing this waste away from landfill and re-using it.

“Cleaning this water using completely natural, chemical-free process not only prioritises protecting our Leicestershire environment while maintaining our drainage system, but it also saves money for the council by dealing with this process ourselves.

By separating the liquid and solid waste, haulage and recycling becomes much less expensive.

We have an ambitious green agenda. Putting in place innovative schemes such as the living water initiative at Croft is one example of the huge steps we are taking towards reducing the environmental impact we have as a council.

Helping to replenish the water cycle is incredibly important, not only for Leicestershire’s wildlife but also our rivers, streams and the ecosystems that live within them. To take something which was once waste and repurpose it and make it beneficial for the environment is a huge achievement.

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