BLUE crabs have invaded Leigh with an environmental message... be careful what you put down the drain.

The colourful crustaceans were painted on the town’s kerbs and drain covers last week by the Environment Agency and Anglian Water.

Surface water or ‘rain drains’ are designed to take excess rain water away from roads and pavements and put it directly out to sea.

But, any waste substances wrongly put down these drains could end up polluting the estuary leading to problems like those which have hit Leigh’s Bell Wharf beach.

Rebecca Bromley, Anglian Water’s coastal catchment manager, said: “We have painted the blue crabs near the rain drains so that they act as a visual reminder of the fact that what goes down these drains is going straight to the beach and sea. By raising awareness of the problems caused by disposing waste down surface water drains - only meant for rainwater - we can help protect our stunning seaside.

“What goes down these drains today could end up on the beach or in the sea tomorrow, and that’s why this message is so important for our coastal areas.”

In May this year, bathers were warned not to swim at Leigh Bell Wharf due to dangerous levels of bacteria.

It is hoped schemes such as this will continue to improve the water quality.

Carole Mulroney, Southend Council cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “We have been reassured by month-on-month improvements in water quality at Leigh Bell Wharf, but the real test will be whether we can sustain these improvements during the busy summer holiday period.

“We all have a role to play in improving water quality and an important aspect of this is not pouring anything down the rainwater drains, as these flow directly into the sea.”

To report the misuse of rainwater drains, contact Anglian Water on 03457 145 145, citing the location and time of your findings. Visit