I’m Back Caring – Clean the River is a campaign to end sewage pollution entering the River Esk in Midlothian and to clean up Midlothian’s worst polluted area.

Location: Dalkeith, Midlothian

The campaign began in August 2018 and, using just a smart phone, two group members made graphic videos of the pollution in a small dry burn where over fifteen years of sewage debris had built up. The videos were shared through a wide-ranging social media campaign.

The group got the local community, MP and MSPs involved to encourage action and as a result, Scottish Water removed over 3,000 bags of sewage debris, at a cost of £123,536, undertook sewer adjustments and ran a ‘what not to flush’ campaign that was featured in the local newspaper.

A local landowner, an anglers’ association and the Forth Rivers Trust set up a Riverfly Monitoring group for community members to monitor river cleanliness at multiple sites. There are ten thousand people in the river catchment including children who play and swim in the river, anglers, bird-watchers and walkers who will benefit from the river being cleaner.

The group is continuing to build upon the success so far by presenting seminars on campaigning and improving public knowledge of what can be flushed in order to reduce river pollution by sewage.

Stuart Forbes, Campaign co-lead, said:

We are delighted to be nominated as a Groundwork Community Award finalist in recognition of our work to address river pollution in Scotland. It means so much that our no-budget campaign is a finalist in these prestigious awards – it shows our work is inspirational and needed. Groundwork’s recognition of our work shows that when we all care about where our waste goes our planet can be much cleaner!