Spray painted blue crab on roadside

Hundreds of crabs appeared on kerbs and drain covers along the seafront car parks and the town centre across Clacton during May 2016. 

No, it’s wasn’t a seaside invasion. It was our Coastal Water Protection Team who took to the streets to paint the town blue – and there is a serious environmental message behind their campaign.

The spray-painted crustaceans were a colourful attempt by Anglian Water’s Coastal Water Protection Team to make people think twice about tipping things down rain-drains.

These drains - or surface water sewers, as they are officially called - flow directly out to sea and are only supposed to take rainwater. The project began after several incidents in Essex where used water as well as fats, oils and food waste from restaurants, were wrongly tipped down these rain drains and had gone straight out to the local beaches and the sea.

In one example, a private coach was spotted emptying its on board toilet into the drain on the Clacton seafront car park. In another example, a road sweeper was spotted discharging its waste water tanks in a similar way. These may be innocent mistakes with the drivers thinking they were foul sewer drains, but it is pollution issues like this that the campaign wanted to address. We want visitors and residents to be on the look out for this kind of activity so they can be vigilant and report it to us. If they do they’ll be helping to protect their much-loved coastline.

It’s also important companies and contractors who may need to use foul drains in the area, know when they are using the correct drain. The quickest way to do that we thought was to paint something striking near the rain-drains. The crabs are a visual reminder saying ‘this drain is directly linked to the sea’ and we hope it will prevent any repeat issues in future.

Ultimately what someone puts down these surface water drains today will end up at the beach tomorrow, and that’s why this message is important.