MP “holding Thames Water to account” over sewage in local rivers


The company promises Victoria Prentis action, but three works have pumped raw sewage into the River Cherwell most of today

Banbury’s MP says she is holding Thames Water to account over sewage leaks into our local rivers.

Victoria Prentis accepted an invitation to visit the Banbury Sewage Treatment Works after she wrote to Sarah Bentley, the company’s Chief Executive, asking what was being done to safeguard the River Cherwell and limit sewage discharges.

Storm overflows are used when treatment works are overwhelmed in situations such as heavy rainfall.   The overflow lets untreated incoming liquid pass straight into the river, bypassing any processing, so that the sewers do not become blocked, which could lead to flooding in people’s homes.

Mrs Prentis met senior company representatives who told her that the frequency and duration of discharges in Banbury had decreased significantly over the last 3 years.

Mrs Prentis said: “ Up until my visit, there had been 25 spills last year. This is 25 too many – a point which Thames Water readily accept.

“They assured me that they understand releasing untreated sewage into our rivers is unacceptable, which is why they are working at pace to stop it. I was reassured that they are taking the new statutory requirements placed on water companies very seriously and are demonstrating a commitment to protecting and enhancing our rivers.”

Thames Water told Mrs Prentis that maintenance and improvements projects to be completed by 2025 included £10 million being spent at Banbury Sewage Treatment Works.   The current infrastructure will be upgraded to improve the quality of the effluent which leaves the site and to increase maximum output from 266 litres per second to 490 litres per second.    The company says this should reduce the need for storm overflows significantly and provide further headroom for local population growth.

Mrs Prentis added “It is clearly encouraging that Thames Water are taking responsibility for their performance and investing in Banbury.

“I will monitor progress in Banbury and across North Oxfordshire very closely this year to ensure that we continue to see improvements in our water quality.”

During Thursday (January 12) Thames Water’s own monitors showed that 16 of the 30 treatment works in our local area were discharging sewage into our rivers.  3 of the monitors were shown as not working.

At 6pm on Thursday evening storm overflows at Bloxham, Banbury and Woodford Halse works were all discharging into the River Cherwell.   The Bloxham works had been emptying sewage into the river continually for 323 hours, since December 30.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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