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Don't paddle in this!

1983 - Cheryl Cole and Amy Winehouse were born that year. Seat belt use became compulsory and the one pound coin was introduced.

That was also the year that the permit for the release of untreated sewage from the Bourton on the Water sewage works was issued! It is typed on a typewriter! It set the standards of the day and stated how much sewage the works had to treat before they could divert it straight onto the land and to the river at the site discovered by one of our group.

Times changed. The population grew and so did the volume of detergents, bleach, birth control pills, shampoos and the list goes on. The permit stayed the same.

We think this is a situation you will see replicated all around the country. Outdated standards and little or no supervision of them. We know that since we started lifting this stone that a new permit is being hurriedly issued by the Environment Agency. It won't solve the problem, it will just legalise the destruction of the river.

We don't think the Environment Agency has checked the Bourton dumping site for years if ever. Agency staff are spread so thinly they have had to let the water industry check on itself. Who thought that would work?

These 'storm discharge' permits are commonplace and allow the dumping of untreated sewage and partly treated sewage into our fields and rivers so that the water companies can save money and make bigger profits by not fixing the sewer pipes and not building better works.

One thing will make the government change the slack demands on the industry and drag it into the 21st Century - a public demand for a clean and safe future for you, your children and their children.​

Let's be clear, this issue is not only affecting the Windrush. It applies to every river in England and Wales that receives sewage effluent and that is a very long list.

This picture was taken at the Bourton site in a field well away from the sewage works when the snow was melting in April. That was enough to set this lot off and yes that is toilet paper and yes those things are probably what you think they are. We were shocked not only by how disgustingly foul it was but also the sheer volume heading in to the groundwater and also toward the permitted discharge point on the river. This was just one site out of seven sewage treatment plants on the Windrush.

Why is our government still allowing the private water companies to do this to us?

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