School children in Leicester turn to SuDS to help protect local rivers

8th January 2024

Seven-year-old River has turned to nature to help protect his namesake in Leicester.

The youngster has joined his fellow pupils at Montrose School in using natural solutions to improving river health, as well as increasing biodiversity within their local community.

Thanks to a £9,000 grant from Severn Trent’s Community Fund, the school in Wigston Lane has installed sustainable draining systems (SuDS) in their playground to reduce the amount of surface water entering the network.

The project aims to reduce the chances of overflows into local rivers and increase the biodiversity in the school by installing five planters, which store rainwater before slowly releasing a reduced amount into the system– ensuring the network isn’t overwhelmed during heavy rainfall.

River Buxton and his classmates have been busy planting herbs, as well as monitoring the increasing numbers of bees and insects that live in or are attracted to the planters.

He said: “We’ve been planting lots, including rosemary which my grandma uses in her cooking. I’ve had lots of fun and it was exciting watching the plants grow. I’ve been able to show my mum what we’ve done and she really likes it.”

The project forms part of ongoing lessons around the environment and sustainable water management systems, after hearing from Severn Trent’s education team in a school assembly.

The education team provides free workshops and sessions to ensure that children and young people know all about the work that goes into protecting the environment and keeping water clean.

They’re experts in making the sessions interactive, informative and most of all fun, whether they’re in person or run through the live stream video option.

Teacher Will Warley, who leads on sustainability across the school, said: “We are always looking for ways to make the school greener and educate the children on river health and the impact that we all have on our planet.

“The assembly from Severn Trent was very interesting and the children loved it, so when we found out about the Community Fund, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to implement some nature-based solutions that benefit our local environment.

“Without the funding we wouldn’t have been able to do any of this project and the children have loved being a part of it all. We will continue to work with Severn Trent and look forward to welcoming the education team back into the school.”

Severn Trent Fund Officer Sue Heyes said: “It was great to see the project and speak to the children, who were very excited about the herbs they have planted and the positive impact these planters will have on the environment and health of their local river.

“All Community Fund recipients are well deserving causes, but this project was very close to our hearts as we are committed to improving river health through our industry leading Get River Positive scheme as well as increasing biodiversity across our region.”