August 31st, 2022.

Lizzie Lower writes:

There’s so much to learn about the Sussex Ouse, but most pressingly it faces a multitude of threats and challenges. That’s why we set up Love Our Ouse, a new community-based initiative, to celebrate, learn about, and act on behalf of our local river.

It takes a lot of dedication and research to learn about the complexities involved and there are experts who have been working on specific catchment-related issues for years. We aim to link with these experts and provide ways for people to learn about the river’s health and create a better understanding of what it needs to thrive and be resilient.

2020 and 2021 were landmark years seeing unprecedented public awareness and press highlighting the poor state of the UK’s river and coastal water quality. The UK is ranked 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality and only 16% of waterways meet good ecological status. Of the 25 water bodies on the River Ouse, 13 (52%) fail to reach the Good Ecological Status objectives of the Water Framework Directive as a result of either Poor or Moderate levels of phosphate. Add to that sewage overspills in the Lewes District, outdated and over-burdened drainage and wastewater systems, the effects of climate change and increased incidence of flooding, and the river faces more challenges than ever before.

We have key agencies working hard to protect, enhance and invest in the Ouse and there are well-established national organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage, River Action UK and The Rivers Trust. These are being supported by a number of new community-led initiatives and campaigns to try to tackle the crisis on a localised level, and we are one of them.

In addition to raising awareness, we want to celebrate our river and create all kinds of opportunities to get involved. So we are delighted to be partnering with the Railway Land Wildlife Trust in Lewes on our first River Festival, taking place on the banks of the Ouse from 11am on Sunday the 25th of September. We’re planning a free, fun, and informative line-up of speakers, performances, citizen science, and river-related activities, where you can learn all about the Ouse while celebrating the communities that live along it. Followed by an evening of river revelry with poetry, music and performance in the Linklater Pavilion.

Please join us. Visit to learn more and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @loveourouse .
River Festival, Sunday 25th September 2022 at the Railway Land Nature Reserve, Lewes, BN7 2FG, from 11am.
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