Access to clean water is a human right. We have a right to know when our rivers are polluted by Thames Water’s sewage works and overflow drains. Without this information the health of river users is put at risk and we are kept in the dark about the damage to our environment.
London Waterkeeper wants to know how often these 5 sewage works pollute our rivers – Hogsmill, Esher, Slough, Chesham, Maple Lodge and Beddington. In addition river users need to be told when sewers overflow into the Thames.
At present only historical data is available when what we need is real-time alerts. Finding out about previous overflows is a lengthy process that doesn’t keep pace with modern mobile technology.
For example we submitted an Environmental Information Regulations request to Thames Water on the 19th October 2015. Ideally the company is meant to provide the information within 20 working days. More difficult questions can take longer, in this case more than 6 months. On the 17th August last year another request was made to discover how many sewers overflow into the Thames between Richmond Lock and Sunbury Lock and how often they spill. The final information came on the 12th October. This is useful but the information for understanding what has happened over previous months and years but it won’t tell people when the river is clean enough for recreation on the day they want to do it. Swimmers, paddle boarders, rowers and kayakers are all at risk.
London Waterkeeper wants Thames Water to create a web page that displays sewage overflow information when spillls happen, in real-time. We also need an alert system that tells us when there’s sewage in the water. Copenhagen and New York State have shown London how this can be done and are far ahead.
Without this vital information river users can’t make informed decisions putting their health at risk.