The truth about sewage treatment and the disgusting pollution of our river.
Probably yours too.
Images worth a thousand words. The Environment Agency were not doing anything about the decline of our river - and had no plan.
We started our own investigation.
The results were shocking...
Investigation and research
After taking some technical advice to understand the reasons for the decline in water quality, we made requests for information under the Environmental Information Regulations and Freedom of Information Act.
We knew that Thames Water had a horrible history of fines for serious sewage pollution. We discovered they were being allowed to pump untreated sewage into the River Windrush, and that the Environment Agency permitted it in ''heavy rainfall''. We were told that Thames Water had alarms on some of their untreated sewage 'storm' tanks, although they could only tell us when the tanks were filling, not when they were actually emptying! How then can they fulfil their obligation to report to the Environment Agency when they discharge raw sewage?
It emerged that in a two year period there had been 50 activations on the River Windrush in the works where an alarm was fitted. At Bourton on the Water (serving a population of 6548) the overflow sewage goes straight onto a field, near to a stream which feeds the Windrush. This has been recognised as a way for water companies to hide illegal pollution for years. Why have successive governments allowed them to avoid installing alarms and concealing the risks to the public?
A recent World Wildlife Fund report (download here) found that such overflows are commonly used to dump sewage that can't be treated as a way to save money. This is happening all over England and Wales. It is cost cutting at the expense of our environment. Whilst this has been going on, the water industry has made huge profits with only cursory attempts to remedy the faults in the system.
In 2012 an Environment Minister finally asked the companies to record these events at most works by 2020.
Not to stop it...just to record it! Profit before our environment again.
Environmental health has been given second place to allowing big business to profit at our expense.
See our '10 things' page for more information.
This is a river for people and wildlife,
not a cheap route for sending sewage to the sea.
Short term Aims and Objectives
It is our intention that all of our aims for the Windrush catchment will be achieved through positive engagement between the community, water industry and regulators.
1. To prevent untreated sewage entering the River Windrush.
2. To reduce the risk of sewage contamination to people and animals.
3. To raise the standards of sewage treatment to match those required for Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
4. To help prevent products and substances which create difficulties in the sewage treatment process from entering the sewage network.
In the long term:
The radical reform of the treatment of sewage and its disposal to make it sustainable for the 21st Century and beyond - and make pollution a thing of the past.
On the Ten things page you will find out:
- How our environment has been sacrificed quietly, so that you did not see it happening.
- How the water industry monopolies are allowed to function.
- The shocking track record of Thames Water as a polluter
- How 80% of English and Welsh rivers failed to achieve 'good' ecological status in 2016.
- How 'light touch' regulation allows damaging chemicals to be poured into our rivers.
There is more to see on this site. The blog has over 60 stories and is updated regularly.
We are also expanding the background information - more is available here.
This photo was taken by leading UK landscape photographer, Adam Burton in summer 2010. When will the river be healthy enough to attract him back?
Get in touch to show your support and find out what you can do to get involved in protecting your environment.
Some of our blog posts...