Raw sewage waterfall sees water company fined millions

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A 30-hour raw sewage waterfall has led a water company to be fined millions.

Thames Water has been fined £4 million after a waterfall of sewage was discharged into the Seacourt and Hinksey streams in Oxford in July 2016. It is estimated that over half a million litres of raw sewage were discharged. The company will also have to pay over £90,000 worth of prosecution costs.

The sewage waterfall was reported by canoeists who ended up paddling through dead fish and raw sewage.

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According to the UK government: “The discharge lasted approximately 30 hours and flowed for at least 3.5 kilometres along the streams, through a pub garden and past community allotments.

“The Environment Agency believes it was responsible for the deaths of up to 3,000 fish, including perch, chub, roach, gudgeon and bullheads, some of them up to nine years old.”

The court considers that the incident was both avoidable and foreseeable.


Robert Davis, an Environment Agency senior officer, commented: “It was quite horrific. Sewage pollution was bank to bank and there was a foul stench of raw sewage. When we traced the source we found a waterfall of raw sewage discharging via a pipe into the streams. Amongst the dead fish, Fisheries officers observed hundreds more on the surface, suffering and gasping for oxygen.”

Davis added: “This fine sends out a clear warning to the boards of all water companies – invest heavily in maintaining your sewers and don’t drop the ball when it comes to carrying out that maintenance. Incidents like this are preventable and are completely unacceptable, particularly at a time when the need to protect the water environment for wildlife and people has never been greater and when public consciousness on environmental matters is so high. We’d urge anyone that sees suspected water pollution to report it to us immediately on our Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”


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Alex Glenn is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News. Formerly she worked in the NHS for 15 years until relocating to Spain in 2018. She loves the Spanish lifestyle, language and culture and spent several years learning Spanish before moving to Spain for a better quality of life. She has made her home in the mountains in Almeria, where she loves being part of a rural community that has a mix of both expats and Spanish residents. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading and exploring the area where she lives.

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