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River Deben

Water Quality

Over the past few years, pollution in the River Deben has been highlighted  by several groups, with particular concern about the tidal section, where swimming, kayaking, sailing and other water sports are popular. The Save the Deben Group, Woodbridge Climate Action Centre and others have highlighted the dangers that E. coli and other bacteria pose to human health. In 2023, the tidal section of the river at Waldringfield was granted Safe Bathing status. In spite of this, concerns are growing about the impact of untreated sewage spills, the lack of tertiary treatment for bacteria and the levels of abstraction from the rivers by water companies and farmers.


The Deben Climate Centre started testing the tidal and non-tidal River Deben in 2021 and has now built a regular testing capability, from the source of the river near Debenham to the tidal section at Woodbridge and Martlesham Creek.

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The Deben Climate Centre has developed a network of over 40 volunteers who sample the river on a regular at up to 30 locations on the Deben and its tributaries, the River Fynn and Lark.  We have a couple of mini-laboratory hubs where we do testing for E.coli bacteria, phosphates, ammonia and nitrates; these facilities are operated by volunteers with scientific research and testing expertise. 


Our findings are now being published here and are being shared with stakeholders such as Anglian Water, The Environment Agency and interest groups involved with the River Deben and its catchment.

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