Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?
Or is it.... To be fair we have had some constructive conversations with Thames Water and some useful work has been done and more is happening soon.
However, we have been pushed back on the idea that Thames Water could do something really special with the Windrush as the company has hung on to its old ways of sweating the assets.
We wrote to the new CEO, Sarah Bentley, at the end of October and asked about the company's stance on challenging the Environment Agency position on the illegality of much of the untreated sewage spilling that takes place when groundwater is high. It is a simple enough story and the letter is in the last blog.
It is simple but we know it is a contentious issue because the lengthy untreated sewage spills are symptoms of an expensive infrastructure failure that has been allowed to develop and persist because the Agency had been letting the industry get away with it until groups like WASP lifted the lid.
We also know they can't fix this overnight and to admit it is illegal would be to admit they are going to knowingly break the law on many occasions this winter and then things get complicated.
The Agency is staying very quiet on this and trying to pretend it's not happening as usual, or at least to claim that impacts are low and they can let it slip under the radar but that is wearing thin as the facts become known and the public become aware of what is going on. The shocking results on river health show how the Agency has performed as a regulator over the privatisation years - despite the efforts of a few good people. The infiltration illegality is a thorny one for them as well.
Here then is the reply from Sarah Bentley who hasn't answered the direct question but the preceding comments may explain why that might be. However, there are some interesting lines in this message and if they really represent the way the company will behave under her leadership, there may be some serious innovation and progress ahead in the near future. We have been told several times that the Thames Water staff have the expertise, the will, and the technology but have been starved of the go-ahead to make big improvements. Is that about to change?
WASP is ready and eager to help with that or to keep on dragging out more of the facts into public view.