Sewage is a major problem in West Oxfordshire, so bad that both Witney and Stanton Harcourt's sewage treatment plants have made it onto BBC Panorama (a must watch, if ever there was one).
In Stanton Harcourt residents are having to send messages to neighbours not to use their washing machines or flush their toilets, to avoid their houses and gardens being flooded with sewage. In Aston, residents have written to the CEO of Thames Water in desperation, with no effect.
We highlighted the issue of sewage on February 3rd, but now have more data from The Rivers Trust that we'd like to share, and also to focus specifically on the sewage problem.
In 2020, Thames Water reported profits of £244.6 million, while polluting on a massive scale. In the same year, in West Oxfordshire alone, the following local Thames Water sewage treatment sites overflowed:
- Cassington – 28 times for 230 hours
- Chadlington – 45 times for 446 hours
- Charlbury – 28 times for 370 hours
- Church Hanborough - 81 times for 900 hours
- Combe - 29 times for 306 hours
- Finstock – 26 times for 249 hours
- South Leigh – 154 times for 3,343 hours (that’s the equivalent of more than four and a half months non-stop!)
- Standlake – 24 times for 444 hours
- Stanton Harcourt – 132 times for 2,484 hours
- Witney – 97 times for 1,563 hours
If you'd like to see how much sewage has affected rivers in your area, the Rivers Trust provides a handy map showing "where the sewerage network discharges treated effluent and overflows of untreated effluent and storm water into rivers."
This is both a national and local problem, resulting from the privatisation of our water utilities by the Tories in the 1980s. Much more money needs to be invested in the necessary infrastructure. Instead, private investors played pass-the-parcel with our utilities, siphoning off money as dividends while not making the necessary capital investments.
We demand stronger legislation and more pressure on Thames Water and its lead investors, such as the UK’s Universities Superannuation Fund, to drive better results. We will focus on working with local groups to develop practical solutions to the problem.
The work of unpaid volunteers like Windrush Against Sewage Pollution has been critical in getting the message out and we all need to work together as a community. Changes won’t happen overnight—given the years of underinvestment—but if we work together and stay focussed on this, we can get there.
Please sign below if you support our efforts. That way we can also keep you updated on what we're doing to keep up the pressure to get sewage out of our gardens, basements, villages and rivers.