Local resident hits out at ‘putrid’ sewage outfalls turning Thames tributary brown

·3-min read
Local resident hits out at ‘putrid’ sewage outfalls turning Thames tributary brown

A local resident has hit out at the “putrid” sewage which has been released into a Thames tributary.

A resident of a south west London borough expressed her concern following apparent regular sewage outfalls in the River Wandle, one of two urban chalk streams in London.

Just this week, pictures showed the river running brown following a sewage outfall release at the nearby Beddington Farmlands sewage works, amid a period of scrutiny for how the UK’s waters and rivers are protected.

“The first time I recorded it at the river, it made me feel sick. It’s the most putrid smell you will ever experience,” Amie Battams, a resident of Sutton and member of the River Wandle Piscators angling club, told the Standard.

At times of heavy rainfall, water companies are permitted to discharge diluted sewage in order to maintain tank levels and to ensure they are not exceeded, but Ms Battams claims outfalls have “been become fairly regular for some time”.

The discharges have also sparked concern for the local wildlife and community with children swimming in nearby Ravensbury Park, downstream from the sewage works.

“When I first started fishing, I didn’t know what it was and I lost count how many times it would come out,” she said.

“Since then, I’ve see seen fatbergs the size of rugby balls, sanitary pads and all sorts flowing through.

“It kills fish, it affects everything really.”

Amid the criticism aimed towards water companies following a series of sewage incidents across the UK, the Government has pledged to push forward with its Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan.

Within this, companies will need to improve 75 per cent of water flows discharging to high priority nature sites. By 2050, this will then apply to all remaining storm overflows.

Ahead of these targets, however, analysis of Environment Agency (EA) data conducted by the Labour Party via a freedom of information request, showed that water companies have pumped raw sewage into Britain’s rivers and waters for more than nine million hours since 2016.

That figure represents a 2,553 per cent increase on the previous five years.

A Thames Water spokesperson previously said: “Our aim will always be to try and do the right thing for our rivers and for the communities who love and value them. We regard all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable and will work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary and are determined to be transparent.

“Our shareholders have recently approved an additional £2billion into the business so we can improve outcomes for customers, leakage and river health. We have started the £100 million upgrade of our Mogden sewage treatment works and we’re currently increasing sewage treatment capacity at a number of our sewage works across the Thames Valley, including Witney and Fairford to completed by 2025.

“We recently launched our river health commitments which includes a 50% reduction in the total annual duration of spills across London and the Thames Valley by 2030, and within that an 80% reduction in sensitive catchments.

“This is a key part of our River Health Action Plan to radically improve our position in order to protect and improve the environment. We have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.”

Thames Water has been approached for further comment.