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So let's ask the question!

You can see our short term aims on the home page. So rather than just have them sitting there to read, let's try to turn them into action.

First step, ask the Chief Executive Officer of Thames Water why we can't achieve this now. It is the 21st Century and we live in the 'developed world', don't we?

Here is our letter. We will post the response when we get it.

Dear Mr Robertson

I am writing on behalf of the Windrush Against Sewage Pollution group. We are based in Oxfordshire which is where you will find the once beautiful and bountiful River Windrush. It is now failing to achieve even ‘good environmental status’ and many people have noticed the terrible decline of this once pristine river.

From this in May 2009. To this in August 2017. Same location.

We know that there may be more than one source of pollution at work on the river but our early investigations revealed the shocking complacency of our various governments in their control and motivation of the private water companies in respect of sewage treatment and disposal. We won’t talk about your pollution record but we do know that even if you obeyed the law, the standards on the Windrush would still be very low.

We discovered that your sewage treatment works are discharging untreated sewage but Thames Water still doesn’t know when or how much is discharged. Even worse, the company is not required to know this or to alert the public to the obvious human and animal health risks. We suspect that many pollution incidents have gone unreported.

We want to bring the river back to what it should be and have a clean and safe environment for people, wildlife and livestock.

Our short term aims in respect of Thames Water are these:

  1. That you prevent the discharge of untreated and partly treated sewage from your works and pumping stations into the waterways and land sites in the Windrush catchment area.

  2. Introduce live monitoring of the discharge sites and make the results public if the above fails for any reason.

  3. Notify the public immediately via email and social media when and where untreated/partly treated sewage is discharged.

  4. Treat all sewage in the Windrush Catchment to the tertiary stage (phosphate removal)

  5. Treat all sewage in the catchment to the highest standards set for rivers in SSSIs.

Our question to you is a simple one.

What is stopping Thames Water from delivering on our aims immediately?

If the reasons are financial, and it seems likely that all of our aims have a financial element at least, what do you estimate the costs to be?

If the reasons include the absence of a requirement from the Environment Agency, Defra, Ofwat, the EU WFD or whomever, please also include all of the reasons that would apply if the previous blockages were not present. That way we will be able to see the whole picture from your point of view.

This is intended as constructive engagement and we also recognise that we, the public, industry and government have an important role to play to move towards a modern process more suited to the 21st Century. We hope that we can work with you to make a positive step forward in the near future.

This letter and your response will feature on our website ( and Facebook page.

Your sincerely

Ashley Smith

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