Thames Water released raw sewage into the River Thames and surrounding waterways more than 5,000 times last year, having a huge impact on water quality for residents who use its water supply.

The Oxford Rivers Improvement Campaign (ORIC) revealed it has looked at data from Thames Water and applied the Environment Agency criteria, determining that the water provider discharged untreated waste for 68,000 hours in 2021.

With a population of 1.1 million, the ten sewage treatment works in the area were unable to deal with the full capacity of sewage, resulting in effluent being released into the river 5,028 times, reported The Guardian.

Former water industry consultant and founding member of ORIC Mark Hull told the newspaper: “The simple truth is that Thames Water’s plans are completely inadequate.”

He added the issue is “scandalous”, stating: “Thames Water and the government’s Environment Agency have failed to deal with this problem over many years.”

Oxford and Witney treatment works can only handle 62 per cent of the population’s capacity, while Banbury’s facility is able to deal with less than half.

In response to this, a spokesperson for Thames Water said it will work with the government, the Environment Agency and Ofwat to improve the situation, noting all discharges of untreated sewage is “unacceptable”.

This comes after BBC News reported bacteria levels in the River Kent is 500 times greater near to a sewage site, as a result of hundreds of “emergency discharges” from United Utilities’ treatment works.


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