Sewage leaked into south London’s River Wandle 40 times in 2021

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Putney MP Fleur Anderson has raised the issue of suspected sewage in the River Wandle (Fleur Anderson / submitted)
Putney MP Fleur Anderson has raised the issue of suspected sewage in the River Wandle (Fleur Anderson / submitted)

Sewage leaked into south London’s River Wandle 40 times in 2021, research has revealed.

Putney MP Fleur Anderson has called out Thames Water over the “foul leaks” into the “beautiful river” and said her constituents were “deeply shocked”.

This week she publicised the data of the Rivers Trust - which showed where sewage discharges were made in 2021. It follows the government being criticised for allowing companies to dump sewage into waterways after heavy rain caused a backlog. This has already been an issue in the Wandle.

“Thousands of people fish, play and swim in this river, and would have assumed our government had basic safety and hygiene standards in place to prevent these foul leaks,” Ms Anderson said.

“All Putney residents who enjoy walking the banks of our beautiful River Wandle will be deeply shocked by the news.”

The River Wandle in south London (Submitted)
The River Wandle in south London (Submitted)

“Our water bills are going up and we expect Thames Water to clean up our rivers, not pollute them,” the Labour MP said, adding that she has tried to set up a meeting with the company’s chief executive.

Thames Water has now further apologised after heavy rain led to “permitted sewage” being discharged at Beddington Sewage Treatment works on August 25.

This discharge has been the only sewage dump from this site this year, the company has said. In 2021, there were 40 such incidents in the Wandle.

“We regard any discharge of untreated sewage as unacceptable, even when, as in this case, it was permitted,” a Thames Water statement read in relation to the August 25 incident.

“We are working to make them unnecessary and have committed to a reduction of at least 50 per cent in the total annual duration of spills by 2030 and, within this, an 80 per cent reduction for discharges to sensitive watercourses, such as the River Wandle.”

Fleur Anderson, Labour MP (PA Archive)
Fleur Anderson, Labour MP (PA Archive)

The statement added that by the end of the year a system will be in place that will report any discharges from 468 permitted locations in near to real time.

Last year Thames Water was fined £2.3million for a pollution incident in 2016 that resulted in the death of 1,200 fish.

Water minister Steve Double said: “We are the first government to take action to tackle sewage overflows. We have been clear that water companies’ reliance on overflows is unacceptable and they must significantly reduce how much sewage they discharge as a priority.”