The River Almond has areas of great beauty but it also has a lot of unpleasant aspects, not the least the amount of sewage works that release water and occasionally other materials into the river. Kirsty, one of the rangers for West Lothian Council, told us of times that wet wipes, sanitary towels and other toilet deposited items has been getting caught in the trees around Almondell & Calderwood Country Park. What a way to ruin the feel of nature and the relaxing environment of the river!
We realised that everyone who enjoyed the park may also, without realising it, be adding to the problems at the local sewage works at East Calder that cause untreated sewage and a plethora of non-biodegradable items to be flushed out in to the river. The team, with Amy at the lead, set up a local volunteer group, comprising of local anglers and the ‘Friends of’ the park, to do a clean up and look at the volume of rubbish that was getting in to the river. They did an amazing job of pulling out over 1,300 items from the river and river banks- over just 100m stretch!
But how the RiverLife team and volunteers could share this with people who visited the park was perplexing, we told people about it, we showed people photos of it and we asked friends and family to change their habits. What else could be done?
It was decided that we’d try to make some ‘art’ from it, after all some ‘art’ would be nicer to see on your dog walk than the multiple black bags of muddy (or so one hopes) wet wipes and other unmentionable items we had. We were lucky to be told of Annie Lord, a part time school art teacher and part time fine artist. She helped us transform our rubbish to art, with the help of resin to make it less disgusting and safe to be around the public. Annie did a lovely job of working with those who’d volunteered to clean up the river, getting mucked in herself. She’s taken their views of the river and the issue at hand, transforming these in to a 35x40cm square of resin that contains those pesky wet wipes, dental floss, a rubber door mat, larger cans and the natural leaf litter of trees and the river banks.
We’re excited to unveil the artwork on 8th March 2019 in the afternoon in no better place than the public toilet block at Almondell & Calderwood Country Park, where we hope it might make a few more people tell their friends about what is lurking in our rivers due to our bad bathroom habits!