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CARP CHAT
Thames Water fined £607,000 for polluting
and killing fish in Berkshire waterway
Thames Water has been ordered to
pay more than £700,000 in fines and
costs for polluting the Maidenhead
Ditch in Berkshire, killing fish and
leaving many in distress.
The case was brought by the Environment Agency after Thames Water
caused pollution from their site at
Maidenhead Sewage Treatment
works (STW) to enter the Maidenhead
Ditch, which joins the River Cut, a
tributary of the Thames, which is
home to Bray Marina, South East
Water’s public water supply waterworks as well as a well-used amenity
for paddle borders and other water
users.
Today,10th July 2019, Thames
Water were ordered to pay fines of
£607,000, costs of £100,000 and a victim surcharge of £120 at Aylesbury
Crown Court.
The court heard how in June 2014,
Thames Water caused pollution of the
watercourse with raw sewage. Maidenhead STW has a permit to discharge storm sewage in storm conditions into the watercourse. The permit
aims to deal with the high flows,
which can result during periods of
extreme rainfall. In June 2014, there
were no extreme weather conditions.
Maidenhead STW also has another
permit to discharge treated final efflue n t i n t o t h e w a t e r c o u r s e, a s i t
includes human waste, a variety of
pollutants, organic materials and
chemicals. However, the Environment Agency told the court how
Thames Water did not meet the conditions of these permits around the
time of the incident. The court heard
how sewage and partially treated
sewage respectively ended up in the
watercourse as a result of poorly performing equipment.
Environment Agency officers
attended the site as soon as a mem-
8 FREE LINE
ber of the public alerted the incident
hotline after witnessing a grey and
odorous cloud of polluted water
entering the Maidenhead Ditch and
River Cut from the Sewage Treatment
Works.
Officers carried out monitoring for
water quality and took water samples
of the watercourse at various locations. The results revealed very low
dissolved oxygen levels, indicating
that oxygen was stripped from the
water as a consequence of June 2014
pollution.
Investigations carried out by Environment Agency officers’ revealed
further failures by TWUL management. This involved repeated discharges of untreated or poorly treated
raw sewage into the river and failing
to react adequately to alarms used to
alert them to the serious problems.
Logbook entries suggest ongoing discharges and other problems at a site
that was struggling to cope.
Environment Agency officer Ben
Govan said: “Our officers believe up to
around 30 million litres of sewage polluted the ditch. Hundreds of fish died,
and the environment suffered as a
result of Thames Water’s failures. Pollution could and should have been
avoided had the many warnings and
alerts leading up to the incident been
acknowledged and dealt with properly. We take these types of incidents
very seriously and will do everything
within our powers to safeguard the
environment and people affected, and
that includes holding those who put
the environment at risk to account for
their actions.” n
Environment Agency tells water
companies to clean up their act
and protect the environment from
pollution
Water company efforts to protect the
environment were described as ‘simply unacceptable’ in an Environment
Agency (EA) report published today
(10th July) with only one of the major
water and sewage companies in England performing at the level expected.
Overall water company perform a n c e h a s d e t e r i o r a t e d, w h i c h
reverses the trend of gradual
improvement in the sector since the
rating system began in 2011. Serious
pollution incidents increased in 2018,
causing damage to the rivers and
wildlife.
Environment Agency Chair, Emma
Howard Boyd, who has previously
warned water companies they would
face a tougher regulatory approach
with increasing inspections, is pledging that the Environment Agency will
continue to work with Ofwat to look
at financial penalties to drive better
environmental performance given
fines are currently only a fraction of
turnover. Writing in the report’s foreword, she said, “Companies should be
reflecting on their environmental performance and longterm resilience. If
this is poor, they should be asking
themselves whether dividends are
justifiable.”
The annual report rates each of the
nine water and sewerage companies
in England as either green, amber or
red on a range of measures including

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