‘It is a complete scandal’: New figures reveal Thames Water sewage spills

Councillors have described Thames Water sewage dumps as a “complete scandal” after new figures revealed a shocking number of spills.

The figures, released by the Environment Agency, showed Thames Water spilled sewage into the River Graveney – a tributary of the River Wandle – 127 times in 2023, for a total of 209.5 hours.

Water firms have no legal obligation to report the amount of sewage discharged, only the number of hours it was released.

A spokeswoman for Thames Water attributed the high levels of sewage spills to increased rainfall in 2023, and said the company had published plans to upgrade more than 250 of its sewage treatment works.

But the Wimbledon Liberal Democrats are calling for tougher action against sewage dumping in rivers.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Wimbledon, Cllr Paul Kohler, said: “It is a complete scandal that filthy sewage is being pumped into Wimbledon’s rivers and waterways.

“Our community should not be forced to put up with this any longer.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Wimbledon, Cllr Paul Kohler (Picture: Liberal Democrats)

“We need to see a ban on bonuses for water company bosses whose firms have pumped filth into our waterways and to ensure that our natural environment is protected.”

Data from the Environment Agency showed the water company discharged sewage a staggering 16,990 times last year, a 112 per cent rise compared to 2022. 

Thames Water uses sewage monitors to measure volume in some locations. The water company used them while making the Thames Tideway, but they are the only known monitors of the kind fitted in the country. 

Because they do not cover the entire network, far more sewage may have been released than that measured.

Prosecutions of Thames Water by the Environment Agency for pollution incidents have led to fines of £35.7million between 2017 and 2023. 

A Thames Water spokesman said: “We regard any untreated discharges as unacceptable, and we’re committed to stopping them from being necessary.  

“In 2023 we experienced above average rainfall, so our storm overflow system has operated to protect customers’ homes during the wet weather. 

“Rather than letting sewage back up into people’s properties, diluted wastewater has, at times, been released into the rivers. We also have more monitors in place now than last year, so we can expect to have more data and higher figures.”

Pictured top: River Wandle (Picture: Liberal Democrats)

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