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“Disgusting” revelation on sewage should see Thames Water “ripped up”

Thames Water should be “ripped up” and no longer allowed to be for profit, after it emerged some 14bn litres of sewage were released in 2023.
Thames Water should be “ripped up” and no longer allowed to be for profit, after it emerged some 14bn litres of sewage were released in 2023.

Thames Water should be “ripped up” and no longer allowed to be for profit, after it emerged some 14bn litres of sewage were released in 2023, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Research revealed that, since 2020, sewage amounting to at least 85.9bn litres has poured into the Thames, which has been branded “disgusting” and “horrifying”.

The figures were exposed via Environment Information Requests made by the Lib Dems to Thames Water, which revealed sewage spills have risen year-on-year, the party said.

They are calling for the embattled water firm to be put into special administration, no longer be for profit, and to become a public benefit company with environmentalists on the board.

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Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoman 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.”

One site at Mogden, in south west London, was hit by more than 558m litres of sewage discharge in just one day in October, in the worst incident of last year, the figures revealed.

This was followed by Crossness, in east London, where in one day in November almost 430m litres of sewage was discharged.

And Mogden was affected again in November by a sewage discharge of over 397m litres.

Water firms are not legally obligated to report the volume of sewage discharged, only the duration of the overspill – but Thames Water have some volume monitors in place due to an agreement with the Environment Agency and used them while building the Thames Tideway.

Despite being the only type of these monitors in the UK, they don’t cover the whole Thames Water network, meaning the actual total volume of sewage is likely to be much higher.

The Lib Dems said Thames Water did not provide data for February 2023, and sewage spills rose year-on-year from 148 to 255, despite significant public outcry over the sewage crisis.

Olney added: “Our environment cannot wait any longer for this government to get a grip of disgraced water firms.

“It is horrifying 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.”

Thames Water, the Conservatives and Labour have been contacted for comment.