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DIRTY DISCHARGE: ‘Failing’ sewage works secrete waste into rivers

 Published on: 6th March 2024   |   By: Sophia Sheera   |   Category: Uncategorized

A local environmental group has highlighted the increased frequency of sewage discharge into a river that flows through Croxley.

The chairman of the River Chess Association Paul Jennings states that it would be normal for untreated sewage to flow into the River Chess once or twice a year in times of extreme rainfall.

However, he said that waste has been discharged from the sewage treatment works at Chesham on at least 12 occasions this year.

Paul explained: “These aren’t isolated events but daily occurrences.

“We’re witnessing an uncomfortably high level of sewage discharge given the amount of investment that Thames Water has put towards infrastructure over the past few years.”

Paul explained that wastewater can overflow in times of high rainfall if the volume of waste exceeds storage facilities at sewage works. Even though Thames Water has increased the storage capacities at the Chesham site, the site is still unable to process the volume of liquid which is required of it.

Paul added: “This is a region-wide problem; sewage sites throughout the whole River Colne catchment area are polluting our rivers and streams.”

Poor water quality has numerous adverse effects on local wildlife. In 2014, persistent overflow from the Chesham sewage treatment works temporarily forced watercress farms in Sarratt to cease sales.

Paul said: “All the Colne tributaries are polluted, and HS2 isn’t helping – rather than build their own waste disposal facilities, they’re using the already failing treatment centre at Maple Cross.”

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “We regard all discharges as unacceptable and we have plans to upgrade over 250 of our sewage treatment works, including at our Chesham Sewage Treatment Works.

“This is currently being upgraded at a cost of £20million and is expected to be fully completed in 2024. The improvements will increase our ability to treat the high volumes of sewage, which will reduce the need for overflows during wet weather.

“The overflows are designed to operate automatically when the sewer network is about to be overwhelmed, which then releases diluted wastewater into rivers, rather than letting it back up into people’s homes.

“Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us and we want to lead the way with our transparent approach to data. We were the first company to provide live alerts for all untreated discharges and this ‘near real-time’ data is available to customers as a map on our website.”

Photo Credit: River Chess Association 

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