Campaigners blast underfire Thames Water for ‘staggering’ sewage discharges this year | UK | News

Campaigners have blasted Thames Water for dumping human waste into the River Thames for a staggering 1,914 hours so far this year– equivalent to 79 days.

The data from 40 sites between Kingston Upon Thames, in south-west London, and the mouth of the river in the east, shows that storm overflows managed by Thames Water are almost constantly discharging untreated raw sewage into the river system.

James Wallace, CEO of River Action, said, “Nearly all our rivers have been polluted by water companies which, since privatisation over 30 years ago when all their debt was wiped, have adopted vulture-like business models.

“This has led to money from honest water bill payers ending up lining the pockets of investors with multi-billion-pound dividends and interest from debt. The water companies chose this instead of fixing their leaky pipes, investing in new sewage systems and reservoirs.

“Alongside pollution from greedy agri-business this has led to today’s freshwater emergency.

“We now face the spectre of ecological collapse on the nation’s rivers, loss of biodiversity and rather than thriving wildlife and pristine bathing water sites, a cesspool of stinking waterways.”

Thames Water is facing the threat of financial collapse and a possible taxpayer bailout.

Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney slammed ministers in Parliament on Tuesday over their failure to answer questions regarding meetings held between the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and executives from the water firm.

Ms Olney has been campaigning for the Government to publish the details of “Project Timber”, the rescue plan in the event of Thames Water’s collapse.

The Liberal Democrats called on the Conservatives to put Thames Water into special administration last week.

The MP said: “Thames Water is no longer a functioning company.”

River Action released the figures on the underfire firm ahead of world water day on Friday and the London premiere of a short horror film called Black Samphire which explores the perils of water pollution.

Former Undertones star Feargal Sharkey, vice chair of River Action, said: “We have been ripped off for too long. It is time for urgent regulatory reform and polluting industries to clean up their mess. We must end river pollution now.”

A Thames Water spokeswoman said: “Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us and we want to lead the way with our transparent approach to data.

“We remain the only company to provide live alerts for all untreated discharges and this ‘near real-time’ data is available to customers as a map on our website and is also available through an open data platform for third parties, such as swimming and environmental groups to use.

“We regard any untreated discharges as unacceptable, and we’re committed to stopping them from being necessary.

“We have also published plans to upgrade over 250 of our sewage treatment works and sewers to treat the high volumes of incoming sewage and reduce the need for overflows during wet weather.”

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