Stephen Waters from Colchester Canoe Club has become the latest paddler to receive the Community Champion award for his dedication to the Clear Access Clear Waters campaign message.
An active member of Colchester Canoe Club, Stephen has championed the case for CACW by actively leading his club in the delivery of a number of clean up events for paddlers. These included taking part in national campaigns including the Surfers Against Sewage: Summit to Sea and Keep Britain Tidy, supported by Rivercare and nearby club Wivenhoe.
In the first clean of the year back in April, Stephen was instrumental in ensuring Will Quince the local MP attended the RiverCare event and went paddling alongside Darius Laws, the leader of the Conservatives on Colchester Borough Council. Together, they collected litter from the River Colne, where they pulled out plenty of rubbish from the river, including a road sign!
Following his involvement, Will Quince then in turn met with Michael Gove and presented him with the CACW charter document, showing exactly what can be achieved by writing to, and meeting with your local Member of Parliament.
Stephen also asked his MP to table a question to ask ‘if they agree that greater recreational access to waterways in England would enable more people to help clean up our waterways and help reduce the impact of plastic pollution?' Stephen has also led on liaising with the Environment Agency on the control of weeds in the local river including involvement with Invasive Non-Native Species.
Speaking about the award, Stephen said “It was a complete surprise to be successfully nominated as a Clear Access Clear Waters Community Champion."
Myself and Colchester Canoe Club have invited our MP and leader of our council out on paddle cleanups removing plastic pollution and junk from our waterways. They have seen first hand why it is important for paddlers to have access on water and as a result our MP met with the Secretary of State to explain why fair shared sustainable open access is needed.– Stephen Waters, Clear Access Clear Waters Community Champion
Alongside all of this, in what has been a busy year, Stephen has also led a number of local cleanups with neighbouring club Wivenhoe, collecting a significant number of bags of litter and plastic pollution from their local waterways. In the April cleanup alone over 20 bags were collected.
Stephen and the club has also successfully engaged with the media. Local television broadcasters Anglia TV covered the cleanups story alongside the news that a neighbouring club had launched two sit on tops made from recycled ghost netting, courtesy of Anglian Water.
British Canoeing Access & Environment Officer Chantelle Grundy said: “Steve has been instrumental in raising the issue of lack of access on water with his MP."
Getting a charter into the hands of Michael Gove who was the Secretary of State for DEFRA is a real stand out moment for the campaign and a fantastic example of why engagement at a local level is so important. As we look to 2020 we will be encouraging clubs and paddlers to contact their MP and explain why fair shared sustainable open access is important for everyone.– Chantelle Grundy, British Canoeing Access & Environment Officer
Stephen and his club continue to work with authorities in the management of weed, mainly duckweed, with streamer weed underneath, but also notifying of the INNS Azolla which secured its clearance/removal by the EA fisheries section.The continuing hard work across river cleanups, MP lobbying and invasive non-native species speaks for itself, and is why Stephen Waters is this month’s Clear Access Clear Waters Community Champion.
In partnership with Peak UK we are looking for Clear Access Clear Waters Community Champions who can inspire a movement to campaign for fair, shared and sustainable open access!
Each month we will select one champion (either a club, group or individual) who has truly inspired others and really gone above and beyond to champion the cause. If you, or someone you know is worthy of a nomination you can find out everything you need to know here!