At least 72billion litres of sewage have been dumped in the Thames since 2020, shock data reveals

  • It is the first time a water company has disclosed volume of sewage discharge
  • Last year at least 14.3 billion litres of sewage was released into the Thames  

At least 72 billion litres of sewage have been dumped in the Thames since 2020, new data has revealed.

The figures, disclosed by Thames Water, are the first time the volume of sewage discharge has been given by any water company.

Last year alone, at least 14.3 billion litres of sewage was discharged into the Thames. The worst year on record is 2021, when a staggering 32 billion litres of sewage were released.

On one day in 2021, January 28, Thames Water discharged almost one billion litres of sewage.

Previous attempts to find out precisely how much sewage has flowed into waterways around the country have been blocked as water companies do not routinely measure the volume discharged, only the time of discharge.

New sewage monitors installed by Thames Water on the £4.5bilion Thames Tideway super sewer project are the only ones in the country which are equipped to measure the volume.

An aerial view of sewage being processed at Thames Water’s Longreach Sewage Treatment Works

Sewage is discharged into Earlswood brook from the nearby treatment works, run by Thames Water

But they do not cover the entire network, meaning the total volume of sewage sent out into the Thames could be much higher.

Now campaigners are calling for volume monitors to be fitted at sites across the UK.

The worst-hit site since 2020 is Mogden near Twickenham, where 17.1 billion litres of sewage was discharged from the sewage treatment works there.

The second most impacted site was in East London, where 15.8 billion litres of sewage has been discharged at Crossness since 2020.

The Liberal Democrats, who uncovered the figures {pls keep} are demanding water firms place higher store on protecting the environment by becoming ‘public good companies’ – which includes placing environmentalists on their boards and no longer allowing them to put profit before protecting the environment.

Munira Wilson MP for the Thamesside constituency of Twickenham, said: ‘These horrifying revelations are proof that Thames Water needs to be ripped up. It is outrageous that Conservative Ministers continue to sit on their hands and let Thames Water get away with this. The Government is standing idly by whilst our rivers are poisoned and water firm execs pocket millions.

Citizen science volunteer from the ‘Henley River Action Group’, David Wallace, holds a sample testing river water for nitrogen levels while conducting water-quality testing on the River Thames

Previous attempts to find out precisely how much sewage has flowed into waterways around the country have been blocked as water companies do not routinely measure the volume discharged, only the time of discharge

‘The era of water firms putting profit before the environment must come to an end.

‘These water firms are committing environmental crimes which are destroying our rivers and wildlife habitats, all whilst pocketing eye-watering sums of money.

‘What is most shocking is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. With almost every sewage monitor unable to measure the litres of sewage discharged, this figure is likely to enter the trillions. Water firms are fitting monitors which simply aren’t up to the job and hide the true horrors of their filthy sewage habits.

‘The Government should force Thames Water to install new monitors which measure the volume of sewage discharged, so we can find the areas which need saving the most from this awful act.’

A Thames Water spokesperson said: ‘Our EDM [event duration monitoring] monitoring equipment cannot measure volumes and was not designed to do so. With respect to the duration of sewage discharge, ‘near real-time data’ is published for each of our 468 permitted discharge locations.

‘This data gives the number and duration of discharges via our dedicated website. At a limited number of sites relating to the Tideway Tunnel, we have the ability to calculate volume discharged; however, we do not do this on a regular basis across our sites. Of course, what matters most is stopping the need for the discharges and we have published plans to upgrade over 250 of our sewage treatment works and sewers.

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