Windrush Recovery Project.
You know that WASP doesn't dish out praise to the water industry easily and it is way too early to celebrate any success until we see real and sustained improvement in the Windrush Catchment but Thames Water has agreed to embark on a major effort to end pollution of the Windrush and tributaries. Yes, really.
For some time, we have been talking to Thames Water about the idea that this catchment would be the perfect location for Thames Water to do something exceptional to stop untreated sewage pollution and reduce the impact of treated effluent. Somewhere to innovate and experiment.
The influence of their new CEO Sarah Bentley seems to be leading the company away from the increasingly exposed pollution for profit model towards a sustainable and hopefully successful future. Whilst we have yet to iron out exactly what will be delivered the verbal agreements we have made represent real progress towards stopping pollution by dealing with the deep-rooted causes that plague the industry and consequently the environment and public.
Our part of the deal is that we will do all we can to engage councils, riparian owners, groups, individual and organisations to help identify and solve all of the problems and pollution across the catchment to maximise the impact of the project. From our experience of meeting so many interested and helpful people through campaigning in the Windrush Valley, that should be a very productive and pleasurable exercise. Something great to aim for instead of just revealing the flaws in the system and fighting the broken system. WASP's challenging approach won't change and we have promised to keep up the pressure but we expect and hope to have very much less to complain about and much more to praise.
Huge thanks from me as campaign founder to the whole WASP team of volunteers and supporters for getting us to this point.
There is no doubt that the outstanding analysis conducted by Professor Peter Hammond has had a profound effect on the whole industry and the regulators and continues to reverberate across the whole country. Without his exceptional work which has exposed failure after failure by the water industry and the system, I very much doubt that we would be in such an optimistic position today. We hope that the Thames Water region in which Peter first applied his groundbreaking analysis will be the one that leads the industry out of such an awful situation and towards true environmental stewardship, not exploitation.
We have already met some of the Thames Water people engaged in identifying and fixing the groundwater infiltration that causes so much pollution and we have been impressed.
New reed beds are now additionally filtering final effluent at Burford sewage works and a time-lapse camera is being installed as we question the spilling figures reported there. It is such action that we seek and urgent fixes for serious problems that have been ignored for way too long.
You have heard it before from WASP - Thames Water staff have told us they have the expertise and technology to deliver a much better service but lacked the finances and the will from their leadership.
It is way too early to relax but things might just have changed.