Biosecurity refers to a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases and invasive non-native species (INNS).

Those managing watercourses are at a higher risk of spreading infectious diseases and INNS and as a result, here at River Stewardship Company we adopt a strict biosecurity policy to ensure that we do not facilitate the spread of INNS through any of our activities.

Below is some advice on adopting simple, easy to follow biosecurity measures as well as some information on some of the hazards you are most likely to encounter on Yorkshire’s waterways.

Basic Biosecurity Kit

• Large trug – must be large enough to submerge equipment e.g. boots, waders, wellies

• Stiff bristle brushes – check the bristles are free from debris before removing off site

• Boot Buddy (non-essential) – can be filled with either Virkon or water

• 5 litre sprayer – to be filled with a dilute solution of Virkon for cleaning larger/awkward items.

• Virkon disenfectant

• Bin bags

• Portable pressure washer

1. Prepare

  • Arrive at the site with clean footwear and vehicle.
  • Park vehicles on hard standing. Avoid muddy areas and driving off any designated tracks.
  • Always pack a biosecurity kit.
  • If multiple sites need to be visited in one day, ensure that there is enough equipment to minimise the risk of transmission. Start the day at an uninfected site, moving on to sites with a higher risk of exposure.

2. Check

  • Leave all mud and debris on site
  • Ensure footwear is free from soil and debris. Pay particular attention to the treads of shoes and turn out any wellies and waders.
  • Ensure vehicle is kept clean. Remove any accumulated mud and debris before leaving the site.
  • All clothing and equipment should be thoroughly inspected and any visible debris.


Pay particular attention to:

  • Seams and seals of boots, waders and inflatable boats.
  • Hoods of spray suits, coats etc. and pockets.
  • The equipment storage areas of all vehicles.
  • Pools of water in the bottom of all boats.
  • Hull and underside of all boats.
  • Chainsaw bars and chains, and brushcutter heads and guards
  • Ropes
  • Hand saws, bow saws, shears, loppers and slashers

3. Clean

  • Cleaning should be carried out on hardstanding and all washings disposed of at least 10m from a watercourse or drain.
  • Equipment should be washed on site using fresh water and scrubbing brushes.
    If freshwater is not available in the volume available, river water can be used.
  • All equipment is to be disinfected with a dilute solution of Virkon.
  • If the vehicle is being taken off hardstanding, the tires will need washing with a portable pressure washer.

Please note, disinfectant is only effective on clean surfaces so wash all equipment thoroughly before application.

If onsite cleaning is not possible, equipment should be contained (e.g. in a bin bag) until it can be cleaned back at the tool store. When this is not feasible, at a minimum the equipment should be stored separately for transport until it can be dealt with properly.

4. Dry

  • Ideally all equipment which has come in to contact with potentially contaminated water is to be disinfected and dried thoroughly for 48 hours.

Free Downloads

Biosecurity Poster


RSC have teamed up with the Environment Agency to produce an informative poster on biosecurity for all staff, volunteers and individuals carrying out waterways management.

Early Season INNS ID


A crib sheet for identifying INNS when they are first getting going in early April - early ID means early treatment!

Invasive Non-Native Species ID


Floating Pennywort ID


Giant Hogweed ID


Japanese Knotweed ID