We have a right to know the health of the River Thames. Part of this is being told when it is polluted. Currently very little of this information is publicly available. The river is used by people for rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming but they don’t know when they risk coming into contact with sewage. We need this information for A Thames Fit To Swim.

Hogsmiill Sewage Works

Hogsmill Sewage Works discharging

London Waterkeeper wants people to be told when sewage works and Combined Sewer Overflows discharge to the Thames during wet weather from the Cotswolds to the Capital.

Thames Water is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations (2004). This law says that bodies like Thames Water shall make the environmental information it holds progressively available to the public by electronic means which are easily accessible and organise the information with a view to its active and systematic dissemination. It’s a bit wordy but means we have a right to know.

When we’re told how often sewers overflow we’ll know the true state of the river. In some stretches Thames Water doesn’t know when it happens but that’s important too. If we have easily accessible information we will be able to see where greater investment is needed to protect the river..

We want Thames Water to put the information on its website, in real-time. In the 21st Century this is what we expect. Currently it sends out emails about just a handful of overflows. That’s not enough.

This information helped make it possible for Copenhagen to make its waters swimmable. They created urban beaches and harbour swimming pools which are now the most popular open spaces. London Waterkeeper wants to see a swimmable Thames but we need to know when the river is clean and when it is dirty.

We’ve asked Thames Water to tell us when its sewers overflow but we need your voice too.

Thames Water, tell us when your sewers overflow

Dear Thames Water,

For the River Thames to flourish we need to know how healthy it is.
As more people use the river for recreation they need to know when they risk coming into contact with sewage.

Under the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) please tell us when your –

i) Combined Sewer Overflows discharge and
ii) when there are storm sewage overflows from your sewage treatment works

to the River Thames from the Cotswolds to London. And that this information is displayed on your website in real-time.

Thames Water is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations (2004). In Part 2, they state that

a public authority shall in respect of environmental information that it holds—
(a) progressively make the information available to the public by electronic means which
are easily accessible; and
(b) take reasonable steps to organize the information relevant to its functions with a view
to the active and systematic dissemination to the public of the information.

I want you to fulfil your obligations under the regulations and develop an EIR Publication Scheme that publishes environmental information on the state of Thames with regards to discharges into it, affecting or likely to affect it.

Electronic communication is fine.

Yours faithfully,

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