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Learning zone

Whether it's finding out how your water travels from source to sea or discovering the difference between hard and soft water, everything you need is here!

Did you know that people putting the wrong things down their toilets and sinks cause around 40% of all blockages in Yorkshire’s sewers?

With over 20,000 miles of sewage pipes to take care of, this costs millions of pounds a year to fix! But with your help, we can stop this from happening and help to save our precious environment.

In this section, you’ll learn about the biggest culprits for sink blockages in Yorkshire, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening.

What are the most common plumbing issues?

Have you ever noticed the water in the sink not doing down as fast as it should? You might also get a funny smell when you wash your hands or brush your teeth.

If the water in the sink is slimy and has little bits floating around in it, chances are there’s something blocking it. This usually happens when things are disposed of down the sink or drain that shouldn’t be there.

The bad news is it’s not a very fun job to fix, but the good news is there are lots of things you can to stop nasty drain clogs from happening again.

How to prevent sink blockages

If you flush things down the toilet or pour things down the sink that shouldn’t be there, you could cause a blockage in your pipes.

The easiest way to stop this from happening is to remember this one simple rule.

Only flush the three P’s:

  • Pee
  • Poo
  • Paper

The biggest causes of sink blockages

Here are some of the biggest culprits that you should never flush or put down the sink or drain.

Grease and cooking fat

Kitchen sink drains clog when waste cooking fat or other oils build up inside the pipes. This can lead to giant deposits of fat in the sewer system, often called ‘fat-burgs’, which cost us millions each year to remove.

Wet wipes and paper towels

Flushing wipes blocks pipes! Toilets are only designed to remove human waste and toilet roll. Even when it says ‘flushable’ on the packet, these pesky things can take years to break down. Remember the rule? Only flush the three P’s: pee, poo, and paper.

Dental floss

Despite being very thin, dental floss is usually made from nylon or Teflon, two very strong materials that don’t break down naturally. This can cause serious environmental damage if flushed down your toilet. Remember to always floss, but never flush.

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds when combined with liquid or grease form a sludgy sticky nightmare. No wonder they are one of the main causes of blocked sinks. And you don’t even need to throw them away. Instead, spread them in the garden to repel insects and help your plants to grow!

Nappies

Nappies are made from a material designed to expand when it comes into contact with water. That makes them the perfect for blocking drains and sewage systems. This can cause the water to back up from the sewer and into your house. Not a situation you want to find yourself in.

How to drain a blocked sink

Hopefully, you will remember what not to pour or flush and never have to worry about unblocking a sink, but in case the worst happens, here’s a couple of easy ways to try and solve it.

Always have an adult present when unblocking a sink or tampering with the plumbing in any way.

Fishing with a coat hanger

First, take a wire coat hanger and carefully straighten it out as best you can. Then, create a small hook on one end and prepare to start fishing.

Secondly, thread your wire fishing road down the sink until you reach the blockage. Be careful not to push the gunk even further down, have a wiggle around, and then pull it back out to see what you’ve caught.

Once you’ve pulled out as much as you can, run the hot water and see if it’s done the trick!

Baking soda and vinegar

For this one, you’ll need the following:

  • A cup
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

First, mix one-third of a cup of baking soda with one-third of a cup of vinegar. The mixture will immediately start to fizz. Now quickly pour it down the blocked drain. The fizzing action will get to work removing the gunk from the inside of the pipe.

Let it sit for at least an hour, then flush with hot water.

If this doesn’t work, your parent/carer may need to invest in a shop-bought chemical drain unblocker!

What are we doing to help?

Here at Yorkshire Water, we take blockages seriously - the damage they do to our sewer systems costs millions of pounds every year to fix. And with over 20,000 miles of pipework across the region, it’s not an easy job to do.

The easiest way we can prevent it from happening is to ask you to think carefully about what goes down your sinks and toilets, but we realise we need to do our bit too.

That’s why we’re spending £252 million to improve the quality of our 20,000 miles of sewerage pipework over the next 5 years alone.

What is water hardness? How is it caused? And what does it mean if you have hard water in your area? In this section we’ll cover everything there is to know about hard and soft water.

You’ll even be able to check the water hardness where you live and find out exactly what is in the water that comes out of your taps.

What is water hardness?

How can water be hard if it’s a liquid? That might be what you’re thinking, but that’s not what it means when you hear about hard water.

Water hardness actually refers to the number of dissolved minerals in your water, and it varies depending on where you live.

Usually consisting of calcium and magnesium ions, the higher the concentration of these minerals in your water, the harder it is. The lower the concentration of minerals in your water, the softer it is.

There are good and bad things to both soft and hard water, but neither are considered harmful to your health.

How does hard water occur?

When water comes into contact with limestone, chalk, and other rocks before it is collected, the water absorbs some of the minerals contained in them.

The amount of minerals depends on the soil and rocks from where your water is taken. Hard water is mainly found in the east of the region, whereas softer water tends to be found in the west, where the landscape is more moorlands than chalk and limestone.

Does water hardness affect water quality?

The United Kingdom enjoys some of the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitation in the world when it comes to tap water. And we’re committed to keeping it that way.

There is no known health risk associated with hard water. In fact, an adequate daily intake of calcium is essential for normal growth and health. Though in smaller amounts, the calcium found in water is the same mineral found in foods such as milk, beans, eggs, and cauliflower.

The dissolved minerals contribute a small but beneficial part of a healthy diet every time you drink a glass of refreshing Yorkshire Water.

The effects of hard water in your home

Some of the calcium found in hard water can be removed by boiling water. That’s because the calcium hydrogen carbonate is soluble.

You can sometimes see the effects of this in homes with hard water inside your kettle. The heating element may be coated in a layer of limescale caused by calcium carbonate, which is insoluble in water.

Limescale is a real nuisance as it can clog up hot water pipes and boilers. Many dishwashers come with water softeners to prevent this from happening.

Testing your water hardness

You can test for water hardness in your home with this simple test. All you need is a clean plastic bottle with a secure cap and some dishwashing liquid (preferably liquid soap not detergent).

Fill up about a third of the bottle with Yorkshire water straight from the tap. Then add 8 to 10 drops of liquid soap and give the bottle a good shake for a few seconds! Now see what happens.

If there are only a few bubbles and the water appears cloudy, chances are you have hard water.

That’s because soap reacts with the calcium and magnesium to form a layer that is insoluble in water (this is what makes rings around the bath).

And because there is less soap, there are fewer bubbles. That’s why soft water will always create lots of suds when mixed with soap!

Measuring water hardness in Yorkshire

Want to find out exactly how many minerals are in your water? Enter your postcode to check your water hardness using our handy tool.

At Yorkshire Water, we have over 100 reservoirs that are free to access and enjoy. And we encourage everyone to get outdoors experience them as often as possible. But to make sure this never has to change, we need people to act safely and responsibly.

Here you will learn about the dangers of water and the rules that are in place to keep you safe.

You will also find advice on what to do in an emergency, with tips that might one day help to save somebody’s life.

Let’s jump right in – the water safety section, that is.

What are the biggest drowning risks?

When the weather starts warming up, the temptation to take a dip in your local reservoir to cool down is real. But don’t be fooled, swimming in reservoir waters can be a very dangerous activity.

These are the biggest drowning risks you need to be aware of.

Strong Currents

Reservoirs and quarry lakes can have strong underwater currents caused by pipes and active pumping machinery that you can’t see. The water may look calm from the outside, but under the surface, it can be a very different story.

Cold

Reservoirs are very deep, and the water doesn’t flow like it does in rivers or the sea so the temperatures are above an icy cold 12 C. Cold enough to take your breath away. Literally. Even if the water doesn’t feel too cold, don’t take the risk.

Time

Or lack of it. If you or a friend is drowning and somebody calls 999, the time it takes to arrive at the reservoir means it could already be too late. Without specialist equipment, you could put yourself at even more risk trying to help.

Algae

That green looking layer on the water is a bacterial organism known as blue-green algae, and it can produce toxins known to kill animals and pets. In humans, it can cause severe illnesses and skin irritation.

Debris

From weeds and plants that can entangle you underwater to scrap metal, bottles, cans, and broken glass, you never know what hazards could be waiting below the waters’ surface. Make sure you and your friends don’t find out the hard way.

The dangers of cold water

Jumping into cold water is dangerous enough without considering all the other hazards that might be in the reservoir. In fact, we know that cold water often plays a significant part in fatalities that occur in open water.

We teamed up with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to demonstrate how dangerous open water can be.

Why does cold water take your breath away?

It’s called the cold shock response. When the cold receptors in your skin are all shocked into action at the same time they cause an involuntary gasp of air.

This is your body’s natural defence mechanism kicking in, and it could kill you long before hypothermia does. That first gasp of air could fill your lungs with water, drowning you instantly.

If you survive the initial shock, one of the first signs of trouble is hyperventilation (rapid breathing) as your body tries to increase the flow of oxygen into the blood in an attempt to stay warm.

If you’re still in the water after 15 minutes or so, your body will begin to shut down to protect vital organs.

Your muscles will cramp up and make it impossible to swim to safety, and eventually, you will become exhausted. If help doesn’t arrive within seconds, it could be too late.

What to do in an emergency

If you do end up in an emergency situation, it’s important that you know what to do. Just knowing a few simple tips could save someone’s life, or even your own.

If you fall in the water

Don’t thrash your arms and legs around. This panic reaction is the worst thing you can do as it puts an increased strain on your heart and increases the chance of water entering your lungs. It also releases any potentially lifesaving buoyancy trapped in your clothes.

Instead, float on your back for 60 to 90 seconds to get your breathing back under control. You’re then in a position to signal for help or attempt to swim to safety. You can practice floating in your local pool.

If you notice someone else in the water

Resist the urge to jump in and rescue them. A drowning person is panicking and could easily force you under the water with them. Instead, shout for help and dial 999 if you have a mobile phone.

Shout words of encouragement to the casualty and try to reach them with a rope, a pole, a tree branch or anything you can try.

You can also throw something to help them stay afloat like a plastic container or life belt.

This will give the firefighters, police, and paramedics more time to reach the scene with more specialist equipment to bring the victim to safety.

Reservoir safety advice

Not only applicable to reservoir water, follow this safety advice when visiting any body of water. Whether it's a river, pond, lake, or the seaside.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and take notice of any warning signs when out and about.
  • Stay well clear of the water’s edge. They are often unstable and cause you to fall into the water.
  • When visiting a reservoir, always go with a friend.
  • Always let someone know where you’re going.
  • Keep a mobile phone with you at all times.
  • Learn swimming and lifesaving skills at your local pool.

Following everything you’ve learnt in this section about water safety, Yorkshire’s reservoirs can make for some incredible day’s out.

To find the nearest reservoir to you, visit our reservoirs page and enter your postcode to learn more.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found across the globe. Along with many other minerals, it often works its way into the foods that you eat and the water you drink.

Here at Yorkshire Water we’re governed by local authorities and Public Health England on the issue of water fluoridation.

This means that it’s up to each local authority to decide on proposals for new water fluoridation schemes, and any decisions that are made are based on public support on the issue.

What are water fluoridation and fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts across the world.

Adding fluoride to water, known as water fluoridation, has been to have a positive effect on dental health as it can help to prevent tooth decay in moderate amounts.

Fluoride can be found in many of the foods we eat, including lettuce, avocados, and strawberries to name a few.

It’s also added to many brands of toothpaste, and in some areas to the water supply under strict regulation.

Local authorities must then conduct their own public consultations on proposals of new fluoridation schemes.

If local authorities can prove that the public supports adding fluoride to the water supply, they can ask Public Health England to ask their local water company to fluoridate.

The history of fluoride in the water supply

The first water fluoridation schemes started in the US in 1945. The first similar scheme in the UK didn’t occur until nearly 20 years later in 1965.

Currently, nearly 6 million people in England receive artificially fluoridated water. This brings the fluoride content up to around 1mg of fluoride per litre of water, which is the level found to reduce tooth decay levels.

Does fluoride help with tooth decay?

During the early 20th century, researches found that people who consumed water with naturally occurring fluoride had better dental health than people in areas without fluoride in their water supply.

Since then, some water companies, backed by organisations like the World Health Organisation, have added fluoride to the water supply because of its positive effect on tooth decay.

Is fluoride safe in drinking water?

Fluoride, along with many other minerals including calcium, is found naturally at low levels in many areas across the UK.

The quality of drinking water in Britain is controlled by some of the tightest regulations in the world, with standards set by the European Commission for over 50 different substances.

The UK government has also implemented its own (more stringent) standards to further protect public health.

Some standards are concerned with aspects not related to health, such as the taste and appearance of your water supply.

At Yorkshire Water, we’re committed to providing continuous clean water and sanitation for Yorkshire’s homes both now, and for the future.

It’s part of our Blueprint for Yorkshire over the next 25 years, and you can read more about it here.

How much fluoride is used in drinking water?

As it stands, none of Yorkshire Water’s supply is artificially fluoridated.

Any fluoride that is present in the water is naturally occurring at well below the health and safety standards set by the EU and the UK government.

For a detailed report of the minerals found in the water where you live, enter your postcode in our water quality lookup – click here.

For additional information about what’s in your water, please feel free to get in touch!

Water pressure describes the force that pushes the water through your pipes. It’s measured in ‘bars’, and is an important part of a functioning water supply because it determines the flow of water from your taps.

Lots of different things can affect water pressure, including how high your house is built, and how many people in your area are using the water.

In this section you’ll learn all about how water pressure can change, as well as how an adult can diagnose and fix low water pressure in the home.

Is water pressure regulated?

The water industry regulator Ofwat determines the minimum standards of water pressure. The guaranteed standards scheme (GSS) sets out that Yorkshire Water must maintain a minimum pressure of water in the pipe serving Yorkshire’s homes with water of seven metres static head. This measurement refers to the height of a column of water at rest that would produce a given pressure.

What factors can affect water pressure?

A number of factors can affect water pressure. Some are found outside of the home, for example, if there is a leak in the pipes under the road. In this instance, Yorkshire Water is responsible for fixing the problem.

If you do find a leak, you can report it online using our interactive map.

Condition of your pipework

Other factors are found inside your home, like the size and length of internal pipework. The further water has to travel, the lower the pressure will likely be. Age can also be a factor, especially for hot water pipes where calcium deposits can slow the flow of water.

Water usage in the home

Have you ever noticed the water pressure from the tap drop when you flush the toilet? As a rule, the more water being used at any one time, the lower the pressure will be. This happens when the water flow is split between multiple outlets.

Distance to the water storage tank

The closer your home is to the water storage tank, the lower your pressure will be. Similarly, the lower your home is in relation to the storage tank, the higher your water pressure will be. This is because water can flow more easily with the help of gravity.

Water usage in your area

Water pressure can vary at different times of the day. On a hot day when people are using garden hoses and sprinklers, the water pressure may be lower. This is also true during peak hours like in the morning when more people are running taps.

What does pulsating water pressure mean?

If the water coming out of your taps is pulsating or changing pressure it could indicate a problem with one of the following:

There could be debris in the pressure release valve supplying your home. There could also be a loose washer in the tap where the problem is occurring. Failing that, your water tank could be waterlogged, meaning there might be too much water and not enough air. This can cause your water pressure to fluctuate.

If the problem persists, you may need the advice of a plumber who can diagnose and fix the issue.

How do you increase water pressure?

Is low water pressure plaguing your home? Make sure an adult checks the following points before seeking expert advice.

Is there planned work in your area?

Local repair work can often affect water pressure temporarily. A letter should be posted to your home from us, but if you’re unsure, you can enter your postcode here to find out.

Is there an incident affecting water supply in your area?

Unplanned incidents in your area like a burst water main can explain a sudden drop in water pressure. Remember to check our website for the latest updates and advice.

If there are no issues with the water supply to your home, let an adult try the following to increase the water pressure.

Clean the tap

Have an adult unscrew the aerator at the end of the tap with a pair of pliers and give the parts a good clean. Then run the tap for a couple of minutes to clear any sediment in the pipe.

You might want to soak the parts in water and vinegar for a few hours for hard to remove stains. Repeat the process with your showerhead with and see what difference it makes!

Check the water meter to rule out leaks

With the help of an adult shut off all water in your house and then read the water meter. If the small triangular or disk-shaped dial on the meter is spinning, water is still flowing. This indicates that there might be a leak.

Make a note of the reading, and see if it changes after a few hours. See our leaks page for more information about water leaks and how to report one. 

Why is the hot water pressure lower than the cold water pressure?

Over time the inside surface of your hot water pipes corrodes which can constrict and slow the flow of water.

Problems are usually caused by sediment, rust, calcium deposits (if you live in a hard water area) and other debris building up in the plumbing.

Deposits build up at a certain temperature, which is why low water pressure issues tend to affect the hot water more than the cold water.

Sometimes the pressure will slowly decrease over a period of time, particularly if your home has been plumbed with galvanized pipe.

Some plumbers offer a service to acid flush the water piping system, however a more long lasting repair is to test your water for hardness and then install a water softener system.

You can enter your postcode to check your water hardness using our handy tool.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average household in the UK uses about 350 litres of water a day? Everything from cooking, cleaning, using the toilet, and gardening uses water.

During the treatment of the resulting wastewater and sewage, a huge amount of gases are released. So instead of letting them go to waste, we realised the potential for using these gases as a source of energy.

By harnessing the biogas, as it is known, companies can generate their own electricity to contribute to powering the machinery that is needed to treat the wastewater and sewage.

We like to call it poo power. And in this section, you’ll learn how it works.

How do you make electricity from sewage?

When we clean wastewater at one of our wastewater treatment plants, the solids that we filter out create a thick and rather unpleasant sludge.

Instead of simply disposing of the sewer sludge, we can collect it and use it as fuel. That’s because the biogas it produces is rich in methane, a fantastic energy source once extracted.

The biogas is produced when bacteria feed on human and animal waste.

This process is known as anaerobic digestion and it’s a great way to produce green energy, as well as getting rid of waste and the microorganisms that lurk in it.

Imagine millions of tiny living organisms within the waste ‘farting’. This is literally how the useful biogas is produced.

You can answer more questions about poo power using our handy booklet!

Does renewable energy reduce our carbon footprint?

Most power plants burn fossil fuels like coal to heat water, which turns to steam and drives a turbine that generates electricity, which is then transmitted to our schools and homes.

The problem with fossil fuels is that when they burn, they release lots of carbon dioxide, which pollutes the air and makes it difficult for living creatures to survive.

Fossil fuels are also a non-renewable energy source. In other words, once they’re gone, they’re gone, which means it’s more important than ever to seek out renewable alternatives that cause far less damage to our environment.

The advantages of renewable energy

When the biogas is burnt for generating electricity, far less carbon dioxide is released than when fossil fuels are burnt.

Plus, because it’s made from human and animal waste, there will always be a ready supply to use. And we’re already seeing the advantages of this type of renewable energy across Yorkshire.

Our sewage works in Bradford creates enough poo-powered renewable energy to power the entire site. It’s reduced the amount of harmful carbon dioxide by 9,000 tonnes, saving  £1.3 million a year in energy costs.

At Esholt, our Thermal Hydrolysis tanks generate enough energy to power 7,000 homes a year!

Our continued investment is just part of our Blueprint for Yorkshire over the next 25 years. 

The limitations of renewable energy

The use of methane as a source of energy within local communities can sometimes be a controversial issue.

Landfill sites and wastewater and sewage treatment plants now have facilities for extracting methane from the degrading waste, despite public perception among some people that it is a dangerous gas.

There are also limitations in terms of the amount of biogas needed to generate a useful amount of electricity. To put it in context, it takes the poo of 100,000 people to generate 51kW of electricity, enough for 500 light bulbs. (source www.upd8.org.uk).

What else can you use renewable energy for?

In Norway, homeowners are now heating their homes and offices by flushing the toilet.

You heard that right. Machines at the end of a 300-metre long tunnel in a hillside in central Oslo suck heat from the raw sewage and transfer it to a network of hot water pipes feeding thousands of radiators and hot water pipes in the city.

It’s believed to be the biggest heating system in the world using raw sewage (www.abc.net.au/science).

Water is one of nature's greatest gifts, and it’s everywhere around us. In fact, more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is water!

Most of the water on earth can be found in the ocean, but look carefully and you can find it just about anywhere!

It’s in the sky as clouds and when it rains. It’s in the lakes and rivers and reservoirs. It’s even in the ground beneath your feet. And it’s constantly moving. This movement of water is known as the water cycle.

The water cycle is very important to us here at Yorkshire Water because it enables us to provide two million homes and businesses in Yorkshire with fresh drinking water every day.

Here you can find out more about how it works.

How does the water cycle work?

The water on earth moves and changes all the time. When ice is heated it turns to water, and when water is heated it turns to vapour. The same thing happens in reverse when water is cooled. This cycle allows water to travel all over the world, and we rely on it to provide water to the people of Yorkshire every single day.

Let’s have a look at the journey of water during the water cycle.

Evaporation

The sun heats up water and makes it evaporate and rise into the air as water vapour. That’s why puddles disappear on a hot day. The same thing happens in our seas and oceans. This is where the water’s journey begins.

Condensation

As the water vapour rises, it cools to form water droplets that eventually attach to small particles in the air, forming clouds. This process is called condensation. The same thing happens when water droplets form on the outside of a glass when you pour cold water into it.

Precipitation

After a while, the water gets too heavy and falls back down to earth as rain, sleet, snow or hail. The word ‘precipitation’ comes from Latin, and means ‘falling’. The next time it rains, see if you can remember this word.

How we collect water from the water cycle

Once the rainwater has fallen and collected to form rivers and lakes, that’s where we come in. We take water from rivers and from wells called boreholes. We also store water in huge artificial lakes called reservoirs. But there’s more work to do before this water is safe to drink.

Our water treatment works

Before it’s safe to drink, water needs to be treated to remove all the bad bits. This process is done at our water treatment works. Here we use a combination of filters and chemicals to remove debris and kill off any microbes left in the water.

Did you know? Yorkshire Water has 55 water treatment works serving 5 million customers!

The mains pipes in and out of your home

Having removed the bad bits from the water we've collected it's now ready to be delivered to the homes, businesses and schools across Yorkshire.

Did you know? Yorkshire Water supplies 1.3 billion litres of tap water every day!

Water comes to your house through pipes called mains. When you have used the water, it goes into another set of pipes called sewers.

Our sewage treatment works

The dirty water (called sewage) needs to be treated again to remove other bad bits before it is safe to be returned to the water cycle. This happens at one of 640 Yorkshire Water wastewater treatment works across the region.

The water cycle continues

Once the dirty water has been cleaned, it goes back to a river and flows out to sea, where the water cycle begins all over again.

Why is the water cycle important?

The water cycle is important because every living thing needs water to grow and survive. From plants and animals to trees and insects. Even the fish in the sea rely on the water cycle to return the water once it’s completed its journey.

Did you know? Nearly 65% of our body is made up of water!

Without the evaporation of water from the oceans, there would be no clouds in the sky. And without the clouds in the sky, there would be no rainfall for us to collect and use.

We're delighted to offer visits to our clean water treatment works at Headingley (Leeds) and Ewden (Stocksbridge, North Sheffield), where children can learn about the water cycle, the environment and how we ensure Yorkshire has a constant supply of fresh drinking water.

LOtC Quality Badge

Our education centres at Headingley, Ewden and Tophill Low have been awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge.

This is a national accreditation, recognising the essential elements of provision - learning and safety. We achieved the LOtC Quality Badge by demonstrating that we offer good quality teaching and learning experiences and that we manage risk effectively.

This is an important achievement as it provides an assurance that we:

1. Offer what we say we offer
2. Take account of the needs of our users
3. Place emphasis on 'learning/skills outcomes'
4. Operate in a healthy and safe environment

KS2 Programme Guide for Headingley and Ewden

Our education centre is run by experienced staff. We offer a programme of free sessions for primary schools and additional sessions for secondary schools, universities and community groups.

There are two programmes currently available:

A half day visit to Headingley and Ewden water treatment works will include:

1. Introduction to the water cycle and where our water comes from.
2. The 'Baddies in the Works' presentation - how we remove the 'baddies' from the water we treat. (approx. 10 minutes)
3. A guided tour of the site with headsets (approx. 40 minutes)
4. Activities - group work around six interactive sessions (approx. 40 minutes)
5. Water savers and wasters. Which one are you? (approx. 10 minutes)
6. Plenary session. What have we learnt? (approx. 10 minutes)

Children will be able to get hands on - conducting exciting experiments and working on a series of projects that help explain the water cycle and what we do with water to make it safe to drink. We also give out resource booklets so the learning can continue when you get back to the classroom.

Session timings are either 9.45am – 11.45am or 12.45pm – 2.45pm and we open Tuesday to Friday at Headingley and Tuesdays and Thursdays at Ewden. You can check our schedule of opening for availability here. Please note that we can only take one class per session.

A full day visit to Headingley and Ewden Water Treatment Works with our Big Wish activity programme will include:

1. Introduction to the water cycle and where our water comes from.
2. The 'Baddies in the Works' presentation - how we remove the 'baddies' from the water we treat. (approx. 10 minutes)
3. A guided tour of the site with headsets (approx. 40 minutes)
4. Activities - group work around six interactive sessions (approx. 40 minutes)
5. Water savers and wasters. Which one are you? (approx. 10 minutes)
6. Plenary session. What have we learnt? (approx. 10 minutes)

7. An afternoon focusing on the difference between communities in Ethiopia and the Yorkshire region. We will explore how villagers access their water supplies and the benefits of working with WaterAid to bring clean water and sanitation to those less fortunate. The sessions will comprise of activities from our Big Wish youth engagement programme (insert link to Big Wish resources)

Full day sessions are from 9.45am to 2.45pm and we are open Tuesday to Friday at Headingley, and Tuesday and Thursday at Ewden. You can check our schedule of opening for availability here. Please note that we can only take one class per session.

Our programmes have been developed with the help of school teachers and cover key elements and targets of the national curriculum at Key Stage 2. These include:

Geography - Key Stage 2 targets - human and physical geography, water cycle, distribution of natural resources including water, locational knowledge of coasts and rivers, topographical features.

Science - Year 4 - states of matter, evaporation and condensation in the water cycle, living things and their habitats, human impact on the environment.

Science - Year 5 - properties and changes of materals, states of matter, evaporation.

English - supporting writing, vocabulary and composition.

Mathematics - supporting number addition/subtraction, measurement and statistics.

We offer bespoke visits for Key Stage 3 and 4 supporting key elements of the secondary curriculum. To make a booking please use our booking form.

KS Programme Guide Tophill Low Nature Reserve

Our education centre is run by experienced staff. 

We offer a programme of free sessions for primary schools and additional bespoke sessions for secondary schools, universities and community groups.

Schools can choose from our half day or full day options.  Session timings are either 9.45am – 11.45am or 12.45pm – 2.45pm and we open on Wednesday. 

You can check our schedule of opening for availability here. Please note that we can only take one class per session.

Programmes available are:

Life underwater -This session will help pupils discover how insects and other pondlife are adapted to survive underwater. Pupils will collect and identify common pondlife, learn about their life cycles and their place in the pond food web.

Life on the water - Using our binoculars, hides and viewing areas pupils can learn to identify the birds they find. Pupils will be able to describe similarities and differences between them, from beaks, feet, size, colour and behaviour to thoughts about what the birds might eat and how they are adapted to their watery habitat.

Wonderful woods - With our vast expanse of woodland, pupils will be able to study the life cycle of plants through our magnificent trees, from their buds and bark to their leaves and seeds. Working scientifically pupils will be able to describe patterns, take measurements, make predictions and give explanations for how plants are adapted to survive.

Nature detectives - Using the essential scientific skills of observation and recording, pupils will be able to become nature detectives and track evidence of what lives on the reserve. Their findings will help pupils understand how different animals in the food chain are adapted to their environment and how the reserve is managed to protect them.

Minibeasts - Pupils will find out what a mini-beast is, where they live and what they look like. Pupils will learn different techniques to collect and identify what they find. They will be able to study them carefully and understand what the reserve needs to do to encourage more suitable habitat.

Wild world - In this session pupils find out about what it is like to live in the wild; what are the sounds, sights and smells? They think about where the different plants and animals live in relation to each other and whether they would be able to survive themselves. Could they find food ,water and shelter?

Book a school visit


- To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book early.

- Once a booking has been made, we'll offer you a resource pack.

- We will automatically send you a pre-prepared risk assessment.

Additional Information

Prior to your visit, we will send you a copy of our risk assessment. You can also download it from this webpage.

Please note that you will be visiting an operational site and on very rare occasions there may be circumstances that cause temporary suspension of visits. This would be very unusual and if we became aware of any instances, you would be informed at the earliest opportunity.

Our primary school visits are usually free of charge, but please be aware that should you cancel with less than 3 weeks notice, we regret that we will have to charge a cancellation fee of £100 per session.

We do not charge cancellation fees in circumstances where there are bad weather conditions which would either (a) prevent you getting to our sites or (b) cause health & safety concerns during your visit. Should cancellations occur due to bad weather conditions, or for operational reasons out of our control, we will work with you to rebook your session at a mutually convenient time.

Should your group have any specific needs in terms of access, please let us know as soon as possible.

Access at our education centres

We aim to accommodate children of all educational and special needs, however as these buildings are all working sites, teachers are advised to read the following information before making a booking.

Headingley Water Treatment Works

The education room is reached by a lift, which may also be used to transport children to the start of the tour. The education guides are well prepared to adapt language and activities depending on the reading age and educational needs of the children in the tour group. Children with special educational needs are welcome. There is portable hearing loop system available, please advise in advance if you require this facility.

Ewden Water Treatment Works

The education room is in the entrance to the treatment works and is easily accessible.  The tour of the works includes a number of staircases and is not suitable for wheelchair access. The education guides are well prepared to adapt language and activities depending on the reading age and educational needs of the children in the tour group. Children with special educational needs are welcome.

Tophill Low Nature Reserve

The education room is on the ground floor of the visitors bird hide.  The main toilet block is a short distance away from the facility but there is a
disabled toilet nearby.    To access the bird hide viewing area, visitors
can use the stairs or the external ramp.  The building is wheelchair accessible. The education guide is well prepared to adapt language and activities depending on the reading age and educational needs of the children in the tour group. Children with special educational needs are welcome.