Thames tributary runs brown after ‘sewage outfall’

Thames tributary runs brown after ‘sewage outfall’

A Thames tributary has become the latest to suffer from sewage outfalls following an apparent storm discharge.

In pictures across social media, users showed the River Wandle which runs throuw south west London running brown following a release from a nearby sewage works.

According to the Wandle Valley Forum, the sewage outfall was reported in the Poulter Park area and originated from Thames Water’s Beddington Farmlands sewage works.

Clean environmental campaigner Feargal Sharkey says the chalk stream is one of only two urban chalks streams in London as the criticism towards the state of the UK’s river and streams continues.

Commenting on the video on social media, Amie Battams said: “What should be crystal clear is brown and full of human s**t. What do we even pay them for? Where’s the money going?”

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.

New data, however, has shown that water companies have pumped raw sewage into Britain’s rivers and waters for more than nine million hours since 2016.

According to the Labour Party’s analysis of Environment Agency (EA) data, released under the Freedom of Information Act, from 2016 to 2021 that figure represents a 2,553 per cent increase on the previous five years.

French politicians have now joined the criticism of UK water companies, claiming raw sewage being dumped into the Channel and North Sea by the UK is affecting the country’s coastline, fishermen and the “health of citizens”.

Pierre Karleskind, Nathalie Loiseau et Stephanie Yon-Courtin - who all belong to French President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-EU En Marche party shared a letter calling for Commissioner for the Environment to intervene.

A Thames Water spokesperson 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.”