'Storm' sewage. Really?
Progress! We have been pushing for monitors to be put on the Combined Sewage Outfalls and now they are on for all of the Windrush sewage works downstream of and including Bourton. That means Burford, Witney and Standlake also now record data at their ''storm'' overflows.. They still don't measure volume and we, as a small group of volunteers, are going to offer to help with that if the industry doesn't want to do it. Watch this space!
So here are the first results from the monitor at the combined sewage outfall at Bourton. Here it runs in to a series of ditches which link up to the river and in discharges via a pipe into the Windrush.
This is what it looked like in April 2018
And below is a graph showing the storming event duration. You can see that it shows that there were 7 consecutive days when it was discharging untreated sewage 24 hours a day.. You can also see the rainfall recorded for that period on the wavy line.
When we set out on this campaign we were told two things by the Environment Agency and Thames Water.
1. Storm sewage is highly diluted and not a serious pollutant - The amount of toilet paper, condoms and sanitary towels we saw is making us question that!
2. They were saying the events are rare and only happen when there is very heavy rain and the river is in flood. Not what we have observed and not what the data says. It seems that TW have now admitted the events can endure much longer!
This is done to stop untreated sewage backing up into people houses says Thames Water.
Maybe that would be the consequence of blocking it, but it actually happens here because rain water seeps into a sewage network which has not been maintained and repaired to prevent that and because of issues at a pumping station that has been beset by problems which have not been addressed.
We are pleased to hear that Thames Water is now starting to address the leaky sewer by lining it but there is a lot to do and so far they had decided not to spend the money required to stop the pollution.
Here at WASP we are starting to find out what is being discharged into the same river that we have seen so many people swimming in during this hot spell..What we are discovering about sewage borne bacteria, chemicals and hormones is worrying us. More to come on that soon.
Our recent attendance at Countryfile Live at Blenheim put us in touch with a great range of new contacts; scientists, teachers, councillors and plenty of people who are appalled to discover what they have been paying the water industry to do with what goes down the nation's toilets.