Blue Waters Woodland : Worrying runoff from former landfill site

A worried message from a local resident on the social media platform Nextdoor sent us scurrying off to Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) for an answer.

The message ran, “Runoff or pollution in a stream by Blue waters wood area? I walk my dog in this area and have noticed more and more that there seems to be some odd orange runoff and often oil in the water. Such a shame that this place is suffering from pollution and waste being dumped around. I think this place used to be a landfill site before it was filled in a planted with trees as a natural site. Maybe the runoff is coming from underground ?”

Blue Waters woodland is a site operated by the Central Bedfordshire Council Countryside team. It has been used as a landfill site  in the past.  Since that time it has been re-wilded by the growth of trees, and the laying down of pathways. 

A concrete path formerly used by refuse vehicles leads from Bedford Road, Houghton Regis, to the woodland.

Photo credit: M. Chandler

Today, CBC told News Desk, “Our consultant and site operators have been to look at the culvert and surrounding area to attempt to establish where the discharge is coming from. 

“They believe it is iron oxide (rust) and is coming from metals within the landfill, but that it is not hazardous and seems to be contained to that part of the culvert.

“This Friday we have contractors on site jetting the pipework to clear any deposits.”

About Blue Waters

Originally the site was dug to extract chalk for the cement industry. Afterwards, a lake formed in the base of the pit. The deep blue colour of the water, a result of suspended particles of clay and chalk, gave the site its name, 'Blue Waters' .

In 2010 a number of enhancements were made to Blue Waters Woodland and Plaiters Way to improve the area for local residents and wildlife. New surfaced pathways and signs were installed to provide information and year-round access. You will also find a number of benches and natural play features as you explore the site.

Some tree management works were carried out to open up the new glades within the woodland. There are more than 11 different tree species including Alder, Beech, Wild Cherry and Hazel. Visiting birds include Blackbird, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Robin, Wren, Blue and Great Tits, as well as endangered varieties like Song Thrush, Starling and Bullfinch. 

Blue Waters Woodland and Plaiters Way Map

Visitors used to be able to see Fox, Muntjac, Hedgehog and Rabbit, although, with the nearby growth in house building, these may not be so prevalent now.

Tips for Dog Owners Visiting Blue Waters

  • Never let your dog out of sight.
  • Don't let your dog chase wildlife.
  • Always clear up after your dog - There are dog bins provided. If you do see dog dirt, use a stick to flick it into the undergrowth, out of the path of human walkers, where it will quickly decompose.