THOUSANDS of people backed a campaign to give the Thames through Oxford a 'designated bathing water status'.

A petition demanding that Thames Water stops polluting the river has gathered more than 3,382 signatures within less than a week.

This comes after data from The River Trust released a month ago revealed the water company’s sewage treatment works spilled raw sewage into the upper Thames, between Lechlade and Reading, more than 1,300 times in 2019, for 17,000 hours in total.

Campaigners from End Sewage Pollution Thames, who started the petition, explained that giving the river 'designated bathing water status' would allow swimmers to avoid pollution.

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In addition, it would pressure Thames Water to invest in upgrading the sewage system and treatment works upstream, increasing capacity, so they no longer overflow during heavy rainfall.

Campaigners also highlighted this would 'make them fit for the 21 century'.

Normally sewage is treated to remove solid items and break down harmful contaminants.

But water companies can bypass this if there is no alternative to avoid flooding homes and relive pressure on the system.

To sign the petition visit