Coming together to save the Mole
In 2022 it became obvious that ‘something had to be done’ about tackling pollution in the river Mole. To everyone who regularly walked the banks of the river Mole it was obvious that in the last few years things had changed or the worse. The water looked dirty, brown and silty; scum was regularly caught up in murky brown pools along the banks; there was unnatural foam, and a chemical smell at many places including below the weirs at Pixham and Leatherhead.
A public meeting was organised by Pat Smith, chair of the Pixham Residents Association to publicise the terrible state of the river Mole below Dorking Sewage Works. There was an appetite for change locally as well as nationally, the mood was that enough was enough.
In 2023 'March the Mole' protest walks took place on 4 different stretches of the Mole to highlight and publicise the pollution issues.
In 2023 a group of us got together and decided that the only way that the river Mole could be 'cleaned up' was if we tackled the whole of the Mole catchment area, so we started a new organisation we named River Mole River Watch.
In 2012 the River Mole Catchment Partnership (RMCP) was initiated to implement the EU Water Framework Directive which required the UK to assess river bodies UK wide, the water in the river Mole Catchment was predominantly ‘poor’.
The remit of the RMCP was to encourage local groups, like Friends of River Mole Leatherhead (FoRML) and Ashtead Rye Meadows Wetlands to work with organisations like Surrey Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Mole Valley District Council, Thames Water, South East Rivers Trust, the Lower Mole Project, to help improve the situation.
Since 2014 Friends of River Mole Leatherhead (FoRML) had been an active group on the Fetcham to Leatherhead stretch of the river which is a designated Local Nature Reserve. Some of the founding members went on Surrey Wildlife Trust courses to learn how to carry out kick sampling and River Search training so they could start monitoring the health of the river Mole, and the Rye Brook which runs from Ashtead to Fetcham.
Shockingly, over ten years later in 2023 the issue of pollution in the river Mole has got worse not better.
This is the same for most rivers in the UK.
We came together to say enough is enough!
River Mole River Watch are a small charity as published on the gov.uk website. We have adopted the government's Small Charities Constitution. We are too small to be a registered charity with an income of less than £5,000. We have six trustees who are all passionate about restoring the health of the river Mole.
I am a retired chemical engineer living in Ashtead, Surrey. I have always loved rivers, streams and ponds and the creatures that live in and around them. There are few lovelier experiences than sitting on a river bank on a summer’s day watching the trout rising to a hatch of mayflies. Sadly such sights are becoming rarer as our waterways are increasingly damaged by pollution from many sources. We need to restore our rivers and streams so that future generations have the same opportunities to enjoy them as I have had. This why we have set up River Mole River Watch.
Other interests include archaeology, birdwatching and working on a local wetland restoration project - Ashtead Rye Meadows Wetlands.
I am a Geographer and teacher living in Reigate, Surrey. I’ve lived in the River Mole catchment most of my life only daring to venture beyond the watershed for stints living in the Midlands and Iceland. I have developed a deep interest in the River Mole particularly from a geographical perspective. After the 2013 floods I wrote a series of articles about causes of flooding on the Mole and this gained interest from Radio 4 and BBC Surrey as well as an ongoing connection with Gatwick Airport. I continue to write about the Mole today on a website called theMoleStory.com. Meeting Friends Of the River Mole and forming River Mole River Watch has been the best part of my Mole experience so far!
I retired from running my own business a few years ago. I am involved with various local groups, including Fetcham Residents Association for which I am a co-chair, and Teazle Wood, a 57 acre woodland in Leatherhead which borders a stretch of the Rye brook. Ten years ago a group of us started the Friends of River Mole Leatherhead (FoRML). Sadly, in the last few years it's become apparent that there are serious pollution issues effecting the whole of river Mole . Our local stretch at Fetcham will never be clean without action being taken for the whole of the river Mole Catchment. I want my young grandchild to be able to paddle and enjoy a clean, beautiful river Mole. Other interests include making textile art and gardening.
Having practised as a Solicitor for over 40 years I spent only limited amounts of time getting out into my local area in Surrey. On retiring I started spending more time getting outside and actually enjoying the countryside and Surrey. I volunteer with FoRML to help to clear Himalayan Balsam at Fetcham and Leatherhead. In my youth I regularly used to go swimming in rivers in Wales, but now find that my local river, the Mole, is severely polluted and degraded. I find this totally unacceptable to the extent that I have become involved in the River Mole River Watch and bring my professional expertise to help.
Like many people, I grew up in a busy city and spent most of my adult life bringing up my family and working in various mental health settings. Therefore, it was only after I retired that I was able to spend more time in the open air and in discovering the glories of our local countryside and the river Mole. Although I bring no technological expertise to River Mole River Watch, I have acquired skills in my working life, particularly working in not-for-profit organisations, which I can bring to the role of secretary to support the work of our trustees and volunteers. As a local resident, I believe that I have a duty to work with other concerned citizens to bring the river back to a good ecological state.
I am a local resident of the River Mole (Pixham near Dorking) and also an Associate Professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading. My interests focus on extreme weather, flooding, drought and communicating science through the media. I am also passionate about raising awareness of river and wildlife issues relating to sewage spills, land management and urban development. I love being on or near the water, and want my 2 young children to grow up and appreciate nature in a safe and healthy environment.