Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-revealed:-idyllic-cotswolds-village-where-shamed-thames-water-has-been-leaking-sewage-into-its-river-for-338-hours-straight-and-counting-–-as-families-fear-putrid-water-is-poisoning-their-dogs,-killing-bees-and-harming-farmers’-cropsAlert – Revealed: Idyllic Cotswolds village where shamed Thames Water has been leaking sewage into its river for 338 HOURS straight and counting – as families fear putrid water is poisoning their dogs, killing bees and harming farmers’ crops

Thames Water has been leaking raw sewage into a river in an idyllic Cotswolds village for 338 hours straight – and it is still spewing filth, can reveal.

Locals fear untreated sewage pumped into Bledington Brook, near Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire for two weeks is poisoning their dogs, killing bees and harming farmers’ crops.

This comes after ministers yesterday warned ‘arrogant’ Thames Water bosses that taxpayers must not bail them out amid fears customers face a 40 per cent hike in bills.

Michael Gove said the firm must ‘carry the can’ for years of ‘serial mismanagement’ that left it £15billion in debt, after a bombshell report revealed water companies pumped record amounts of raw sewage into British rivers and seas last year.

Disgusted Bledington residents were not surprised Thames Water’s own data showed the raw sewage at the site – less just 30 yards from a school playground – for two weeks, as they say the issue has been ‘on and off’ for about a year.

Thames Water has been leaking raw sewage into a river in the idyllic Cotswolds village of Bledington for 338 hours straight (the water treatment station pictured)

Thames Water has been leaking raw sewage into a river in the idyllic Cotswolds village of Bledington for 338 hours straight (the water treatment station pictured)

'Disgusting': Ruth Gorton, assistant manager of the Kings Head pub on the village green

‘Disgusting’: Ruth Gorton, assistant manager of the Kings Head pub on the village green

Locals fear the untreated sewage has been pumped in the brook in Bledington, near Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire for two weeks is poisoning their dogs, killing bees and harming farmers' crops (pictured: the entrance to the sewage treatment site)

Locals fear the untreated sewage has been pumped in the brook in Bledington, near Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire for two weeks is poisoning their dogs, killing bees and harming farmers’ crops (pictured: the entrance to the sewage treatment site)

Thames Water said untreated discharges were ‘unacceptable’ but blamed high rainfall and groundwater conditions for the sewage spills. 

READ MORE: Ministers warn ‘arrogant’ Thames Water bosses that taxpayers must NOT pick up multi-billion pound tab for their ‘serial mismanagement’ – as debt-laden firm demands permission to hike bills for customers by 40%

 

But Environment Agency data shows the Bledington storm overflow spewed raw sewage 65 times over a total of 956 hours last year, meaning the ongoing two week leak is already more than a third of the total discharge time recorded last year.

The EA says the main cause of the high spill frequency at the sewage plant is due to issues with issue ‘hydraulic capacity’, effectively the amount of water flow the system can cope with.

Recent wet weather means the sewage spill from the company’s Bledington Sewage Treatment Works was not visible yesterday due to flooding at the site, which is alongside a footpath near the village primary school.

Visitors to the charming community of about 500 people, complete with a shop, pub and post office, probably would not know about the sewage problem but locals are all too aware of it.

Ruth Gorton, assistant manager at the King’s Head pub, said: ‘It’s really bad. Some villagers are testing the water.

‘It’s been going on for ages, on and off for the last year. Somebody’s dog went into the river not far from here and got really ill.

‘It’s disgusting what they’re doing. When they say they’ve got millions of pounds of profit, why aren’t they doing something about it?’

She said that flooding was regular a problem in the village, causing drains to fill up, and that the smell of sewage mixed into the water could sometimes be smelled.

Farmer Sophie Little said sewage discharge was an ongoing problem, with her farm suffering from a major incident a few months where ‘tonnes’ of waste water flooded the farm.

Mark Jarvis lives just a few hundred yards from the sewage treatment works

Mark Jarvis lives just a few hundred yards from the sewage treatment works

She said: ‘We had tonnes and tonnes of it at the bottom of our farm. It killed all the bees. It’s a nightmare.’

She added that she had an organic cider orchard but it had produced a ‘pretty bad’ crop that might have been due to the pollution.

‘Thames Water told us that the Cotswolds is really bad for this. New houses get built but they don’t put in the infrastructure,’ she said.

The recent incident meant she had to move 100 sheep and left her with serious concerns about the quality of the water in the brook, which feeds into the River Evenlode.

She said: ‘I would never swim in a river around here anymore. They’re toxic.’

Manager of Bledington Community Shop and Cafe, Sarah Newton (pictured), said the sewage spill was 'horrible' and that she would not be letting her two dogs in the river anymore

Manager of Bledington Community Shop and Cafe, Sarah Newton (pictured), said the sewage spill was ‘horrible’ and that she would not be letting her two dogs in the river anymore

Bledington village green in Gloucestershire - the idyllic village which is suffering severe sewage overflows

Bledington village green in Gloucestershire – the idyllic village which is suffering severe sewage overflows

The Bledington sewage treatment station which is spewing raw sewage into Bledington Brook

The Bledington sewage treatment station which is spewing raw sewage into Bledington Brook

The leaking sewage treatment works are just 30 yards from Bledington Primary School

The leaking sewage treatment works are just 30 yards from Bledington Primary School

Bledington Primary School is jut a short walk away down a path from the sewage works

Bledington Primary School is jut a short walk away down a path from the sewage works

Sheep on the banks of the River Evenlode, next to the sewage treatment works which is currently spewing out untreated wastewater

Sheep on the banks of the River Evenlode, next to the sewage treatment works which is currently spewing out untreated wastewater

Mark Jarvis, who lives just a few hundred yards from the sewage treatment works, said: ‘It’s disgusting. That (the long continuous leak) shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.

Pictured: Thames Water fouls ANOTHER waterway for nearly six hours on the same day bombshell report says water companies pumped a record amount of sewage into British rivers and sea

‘I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve never experienced this to that degree.’

Villagers said they prided themselves on caring for each other and fostering a strong community spirit.

Manager of Bledington Community Shop and Cafe, Sarah Newton, said the sewage spill was ‘horrible’.

‘I’ve got a Labrador but it won’t be going in the river now,’ she said.

Two villagers, who asked not to be named, said people were trying to work with various agencies, such as Thames Water and the Environment Agency, to solve the sewage discharge and flooding issues.

They said climate change and new housing development near to Bledington had contributed to the problem, with a key factor being that the sewage works in the village couldn’t cope.

That was clear from regular discharges that Thames Water’s own data had revealed had been taking place, they said.

The sewage is being dumped just five miles from Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm – and the other two nearby storm overflows are also leaking in the waterways, as of around 5pm on Thursday according to Thames Water’s data.

Thames Water map shows ongoing (red) and recent (orange) sewage leaks in London and the Thames Valley as of around 5pm on March 28

Thames Water map shows ongoing (red) and recent (orange) sewage leaks in London and the Thames Valley as of around 5pm on March 28

A Lubetech branded 'spill response kit' situated at the Bledington water treatment station

A Lubetech branded ‘spill response kit’ situated at the Bledington water treatment station

A general view of Bledington village, which has suffered with untreated sewage spills

A general view of Bledington village, which has suffered with untreated sewage spills

Environment Agency data shows the Bledington storm overflow spewed raw sewage 65 times over a total of 956 hours last year

Environment Agency data shows the Bledington storm overflow spewed raw sewage 65 times over a total of 956 hours last year

A sign on Bledington village green which reads: 'NO PARKING ON THE GREEN - Thank You'

A sign on Bledington village green which reads: ‘NO PARKING ON THE GREEN – Thank You’

The beautiful Bledington village green is pictured here, the Kings Head Inn in the background

The beautiful Bledington village green is pictured here, the Kings Head Inn in the background

'Danger - Deep water and moving machinery. Keep out': The sign outside the sewage works

‘Danger – Deep water and moving machinery. Keep out’: The sign outside the sewage works

A Thames Water spokesperson told : ‘We regard any untreated discharges as unacceptable, and we’re committed to stopping them from being necessary, with the assistance of our regulators.

‘Storm discharges are closely linked to rainfall and groundwater conditions and our region experienced above average rainfall for most of 2023, which saw an increase in the frequency and duration of storm discharges from our sites compared to 2022.

‘The overflows are designed to operate automatically when the sewer network is about to be overwhelmed which then releases diluted wastewater into rivers, rather than letting it back up into people’s homes.

‘We’re currently increasing sewage treatment capacity at 250 of our sites across London and the Thames Valley. These upgrades will increase treatment capacity and reduce the need for overflows during wet weather.

‘Taking action to improve the health of our rivers is a key focus for us and we are leading the way with our transparent approach to data. We remain the only company to provide live alerts for all untreated discharges and this “near real-time” data is available to customers as a map on our website and is also available through an open data platform for third parties, such as swimming and environmental groups to use.’