Thames Water dumped untreated effluent for greater than 68,000 hours into the river methods round Oxford final yr, campaigners have revealed, arguing that the sum of cash the corporate plans to spend to enhance the state of affairs is woefully insufficient.
The corporate discharged uncooked sewage into the River Thames and its tributaries together with the River Windrush, Thame, Evenlode and Ock 5,028 instances in 2021, in response to information analysed by the Oxford Rivers Enchancment Marketing campaign (ORIC).
Utilizing information from Thames Water and making use of the Atmosphere Company formulation for capability required at any therapy works, the campaigners assessed that the ten massive sewage therapy works working within the higher Thames space – from Didcot within the south to Moreton-in-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water within the Cotswolds – had been unable to deal with the total capability of sewage for the inhabitants of 1.1 million.
Their calculations point out Oxford and Witney therapy works can deal with solely 62% of the capability wanted for the inhabitants, and the therapy works in Banbury is enough for simply 49% of the required capability.
The failure to put money into the capability of the therapy works had led to extra uncooked sewage within the rivers, the campaigners mentioned. All 10 works discharged sewage into the rivers in 2021 for a mean of 11 hours per week. Oxford sewage therapy works launched uncooked sewage into the waters for 892 hours in 2021, Swindon for 501 hours and Witney for 935 hours.
Thames Water is investing within the enchancment of 4 of the massive therapy works and 11 smaller works – only a third of the works that must be expanded to cease sewage discharges into the rivers, in response to the ORIC. When inhabitants will increase are considered, the funding plans cowl only a quarter – 15 of 57 – therapy works needing funding by 2025.
“The simple truth is that Thames Water’s plans are completely inadequate,” mentioned Mark Hull, a former water trade guide and founding member of ORIC. “Given the well-established and longstanding problems faced across the upper Thames region, it is scandalous that appropriate and coordinated investment plans for the whole region are not in place.
“Thames Water and the government’s Environment Agency have failed to deal with this problem over many years. Their ongoing underperformance beggars belief – especially as the industry’s financial regulator, Ofwat, have made it clear that they would not oppose the necessary investment.”
The report, printed on Wednesday by ORIC, discovered that even the place Thames Water had deliberate funding, the growth of capability may very well be inadequate for the 2020s and 2030s. At Witney therapy works the funding will improve capability by 50% improve however that may enhance the works to solely 93% of the required capability primarily based on the 2020 inhabitants, the report says.
Throughout the higher Thames, 102 sewage therapy works discharged into the rivers in 2021. Forty-nine of them discharged for greater than 10 hours per week; and virtually quarter of the works discharged for greater than 1,000 hours within the yr.
The marketing campaign group analysed the size of uncooked sewage discharges within the higher Thames from the Atmosphere Company’s information for 2021. It additionally examined the company’s database of investments by water corporations.
Hull mentioned: “Government, the Environment Agency and Thames Water keep telling us that they are dealing with the problems. The truth is simple. They are not.”
A spokesperson for Thames Water mentioned it was analyzing the ORIC report: “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.
“We recently launched our river health commitments, which include 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. We have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.”