Sewage horror as two billion litres of raw waste dumped into River Thames

Farmer speaks out over sewage being pumped into a local river

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The huge quantity of waste was discharged into the river on October 3 and 4 2020 from Mogden wastewater treatment works in Isleworth, west London. The two billion litres is significantly more than usual – given that half a billion litres of waste from site spilled into the river over the course of the whole of 2016. The amount of waste leaking into the Thames from the Mogden plant has risen dramatically in recent years, the Water Quality and Rivers Report showed.

The report, which was published last month, showed that roughly 3.5 billion litres of sewage was discharged into the river throughout the course of 2020.

Two-thirds of the total volume resulted from the two-day spillage from Modgen treatment works.

A spokesperson for the environment agency said “further investigations” are need into “operations at the Mogden site.”

They said: “Water quality in the River Thames in London has improved significantly in recent years since the Lee Tunnel has been operating and Thames Water invested in upgrading five sewage treatment works including Mogden.

“However, our routine compliance monitoring activities have flagged the need for further investigations into operations at the Mogden site.

“Water companies are required to provide a record of sewage discharged into our waterways and have a legal duty to avoid pollution.

“They must act quickly to reduce any damage that happens as a result of their activities.”

The Lee Tunnel was built underground in London in 2016 in order to improve the cleanliness of the River Thames.

Chief executive of Thames Water, Sarah Bentley claimed Mogden had been “inundated” with extra waste as a result of heavy rainfall.

She said: “They were the wettest days on record, and we struggled to treat both the permitted amount, but also just struggled to treat the sewage.

“On that day there was enough rainfall to fill Loch Ness.

“In order to deal with that at Mogden, we have eight storm tanks at the moment that currently hold about 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools of storm water contaminated with sewage.

“We would have needed either another treatment works the same size as Mogden treating another 1 billion litres or we would have needed 150 more storm tanks.”

Sewage overflows are permitted in extreme circumstances, such as storms, if sewage networks are likely to be overwhelmed.

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But a spokesperson for Thames Water that all instances of waste leakage are “unacceptable.”

They said: “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.

“We have an unprecedented amount of investment directed towards safeguarding our rivers and streams.

“That is why we’ve committed to providing sewage discharge notifications in close to real time from all of our 468 permitted discharge points by the end of 2022 and believe we’re the only water company to have made such a commitment for inland waters.

“Between 2020 and 2025 we are spending £1.25 billion on maintaining and improving our operational sites, including contributing to the health of 745km of rivers across London and the Thames Valley.

“This includes a commitment to invest over £100 million at our Mogden site.

“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 have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.”

Thames Water was fined £4million in May 2021 after almost 80 million litres of sewage flooded a public park.

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