14 billion litres of sewage pumped into the River Thames last year

  • Liberal Democrats uncover “disgusting revelation” from Information Request to Thames Water
  • South West London site suffers from over 500 million litres of sewage in just one day
  • Liberal Democrats call for Thames Water to be “ripped up”

The River Thames has suffered from at least 14.2 billion litres of sewage in 2023, the Liberal Democrats have discovered.

Environment Information Requests by the party has revealed that since 2020, at least 85.9 billion litres of sewage has been pumped into the capital’s river.

Water firms have no legal obligation to report the volume of sewage discharged, only the duration of the discharge.

However, the Liberal Democrats have now found that Thames Water do operate some sewage monitors which measure volume due to an agreement with the Environment Agency.

The capital’s water firm used volume sewage monitors whilst constructing the Thames Tideway project. These are the only known sewage monitors of their kind fitted in the country, and do not cover the entire network. The total volume of sewage discharged into the Thames is therefore likely to be significantly higher than these figures.

It was noted Thames Water also failed to provide data for the month of February.

These sewage monitors have revealed little to no change year-on-year of the volume of sewage discharged from these points, despite promises from Thames Water ofc cleaning up their act. The number of sewage spills also rose year-on-year, from 148 to 255.

The worst incident last year took place at Mogden, South West London, where 558 million litres of sewage was discharged. This was followed by Crossness, where in one day 430 million litres of sewage was discharged.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney has called for Thames Water to be ripped up. The party is calling for the firm to be put into Special Administration, and no longer for profit. Under the Liberal Democrat proposed reforms, Thames Water would become a “public benefit company”, which includes placing environmentalists on their boards and no longer allowing them to put profit before protecting the environment.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson and Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney said:

This is a disgusting revelation. Despite endless promises by Conservative Ministers and water companies, there is no end in sight to the sewage scandal.

Enough is enough, Thames Water needs to be ripped up and put the environment first. The company is clearly no longer fit for purpose, yet Ministers continue to sit on their hands.

Our environment cannot wait any longer for this government to get a grip of disgraced water firms. Sewage levels and water company profits are soaring under this government’s watch. Frankly, the whole thing stinks.

It is horrifying that these stark figures will be just the tip of the iceberg. Every sewage monitor should measure volume, so we know the full extent of this environmental vandalism.

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  • David Goble 28th May '24 - 9:57am

    The discharge of sewage into the rivers, lakes and sea from this country is rapidly becoming unsustainable. However, I have a simple question – does this sewage not pose a risk to public health?

    If the answer is ‘Yes’, then I have a further question – if this sewage poses a risk to public health, is enabling this sewage to be discharged, knowing that it poses a risk to public health not a criminal offence?

    If the answer is ‘Yes’, then why are the water companies not being charged with a criminal offence? If the answer is ‘No’, then perhaps consideration should be given to making it a criminal offence and charging the water companies with the aforesaid criminal offence.

  • Peter Davies 28th May '24 - 12:00pm

    I wonder if anyone could produce a graphic of a 24m cube of sewage against the London skyline for comparison?

  • Peter Martin 28th May '24 - 5:53pm

    ‘Liberal Democrats call for Thames Water to be “ripped up”’

    Just what does this mean?



    Replaced by lots of smaller companies with different names?

    Not replaced with anything at all?

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