A man who cleans entire stretches of a “toxic” river has called on more people to help.

Sandy Belloni, 54, from Kingsfield Road, Watford, has been cleaning the River Colne near Oxhey Park for the past five years with a group of volunteers.

Working as a river officer, Mr Belloni has spent the last half decade cleaning up other people’s rubbish - plucking plastic bags out of trees and waist deep in water removing shopping trollies.

Mr Belloni said: “If it looks like a dump then people are going to treat it like a dump.

“People need to care more and I want them to take responsibility for their actions with litter, we are finding tyres, trolleys and cans in the river which pollutes the water.

“The clearance of the river should be normalised by people and we shouldn’t let nature be destroyed.

“We need the culture to change.”

The river and the surrounding area has been exposed to years of intensive industrial use and fly tipping such as tyres, trolleys, bottles and cans.

Some parts of the river are now vacant of life with pollution levels killing fish, invertebrates and plants.

Over the past five years, Mr Belloni has picked up hundreds of trolleys and tyres and thousands of bottles and cans from the River Colne.

Last year he set up Watford in the Water, a community interest group to coordinate and organise cleaning and maintenance crews.

When in the water, a tyre can degrade and traces of plastics can enter the water supply causing harm to wildlife.

Mr Belloni says some parts of the River Colne in Watford are the most heavily polluted bodies of water in the county.

To fix the problem, Mr Belloni has appealed to more people to come and join him in his attempts to clean the river.

He added: “The water is toxic now.

“We need people to take responsibility for the rivers, I can only work in a small area by myself or with a small group of volunteers.

“I love what I do but It’s difficult and you need to know what you are doing being on the river can be dangerous.

“We need to raise awareness of the river’s health but people also need to be safe.”