Introducing ‘Love Our Ouse’


Love Our Ouse is a new initiative in Lewes to champion and raise awareness about our local river as it faces a variety of challenges. Lizzie Lower explains more.

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.


Photo credit: Paul Gillett

It takes a LOT of dedication and research to learn about the complexities involved in river management. Thankfully, 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 attention 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 Add to that sewage overspills in the Lewes District, outdated and overburdened drainage and wastewater systems, the effects of climate change and increased incidence of flooding, and the river faces more challenges than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 on our first River Festival, taking place on the banks of the Ouse 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.


Please join us. Visit to learn more about the river, keep an eye out for posters about the River Festival, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @loveourouse


See article here about the River Festival, Sunday 25th September 2022 at the Railway Land Nature Reserve, Lewes, BN7 2FG

1 Comment

  1. Chris Yarrow

    One way to love your river is to walk along it. Upstream from Willeys Bridge this is almost impossible in winter, due to the state of the public footpath, especially for children and those with mobility problems.
    The Environment Agency is about to carry out repair works towards Hamsey, but with no intention to provide surfacing for pedestrian use. If concerned, or for more details contact, telephone 03708 506506


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