5 ways we take a sustainable approach to our reed bed work

We understand the crucial role a well-maintained reed bed can play in water treatment. We also acknowledge that reed beds are valuable ecosystems that provide a habitat for various plant and animal species.

That’s why maintaining them requires a sustainable approach, too, to ensure their health and effectiveness while enhancing their environmental performance. Here are five examples of sustainable practices we use to manage and maintain reed beds, which often challenge traditional methods offered within our industry.

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7 reasons why reed bed maintenance is essential

Reed beds are natural filtration systems crucial for conserving water quality. However, like any other wastewater asset, they must be regularly looked after to do their job correctly.

Unfortunately, reed beds are often neglected until a problem occurs, such as a pollution incident.

Alastair Pentland, Environmental Operations Manager at Oren Environmental, has outlined the seven reasons why routine reed bed maintenance is essential.

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The common challenges that arise from refurbishing reed beds

Despite playing a vital role in water treatment, reed beds are often built and forgotten assets. Consequently, if any issue arises because a reed bed has been neglected – such as discharge consent failures or watercourse pollution incidents – proactive maintenance may not be possible, resulting in a complete refurbishment.

The reed bed refurbishment process can be expensive and lengthy, requiring several months of preparation beforehand and time to commission it afterwards once the work’s done.

To avoid refurbishment, reed beds should be routinely maintained over their lifespan – like any other water or wastewater asset. Otherwise, reed bed owners or managers face several unwieldy challenges that go hand in hand with a reed bed refurbishment.

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Potential fines for polluters who’ve neglected their reed beds

In December 2023, the government announced it was lifting the cap on the £250,000 fine limit for environmental polluters and expanding the list of offences businesses can be fined for. This applies to any organisation that holds an environmental permit.

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The multifaceted role of a reed bed and why maintenance is key

It’s important to remember that regular maintenance is crucial for any reed bed to work – whether it’s a natural or engineered reed bed. This is because reed beds play a critical role in the water treatment process.

The Oren Environmental team is on a mission to help educate the industry about the importance of taking care of reed beds and the benefits that come from looking after them.

Alastair Pentland, Environmental Operations Manager at Oren Environmental, said:

“I think that because reed beds are situated in the natural environment, they can often be overlooked and their role underestimated. Not only do they prevent water courses from pollution, but they also provide a home to countless plants and species.”

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Oren Environmental and the Big Garden Birdwatch

Between 27-29 January 2023, twitchers everywhere will participate in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch campaign.

The initiative encourages people to spend one hour of their weekend logging the birds they see. This helps the RSPB to monitor the volume and profile of birds across the UK.

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Protecting a beauty spot from polluted mine water

Protecting a beauty spot from polluted mine water

Our client

Our client is a county council in the UK.

The location is a woodland park with a canal. An area of natural beauty, the site was once home to a colliery that opened in the mid-nineteenth century. Today it’s a popular spot for hikers, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, and picnickers.

The reed bed is part of an unmaintained treatment scheme built in the nineties. Once cleaned, the abandoned mine water from the former colliery is used to fill the canal to maintain its level.

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Reed bed refurbishment as part of a site upgrade

A reed bed refurbishment as part of a site upgrade

Our client

Our client is a UK government ministerial department.

The location is a treatment works serving an operational site with living quarters. It’s been in existence for over a century and is historically significant.

The reed bed – measuring around 30m x 14m – forms part of a sewage treatment works.

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