A NEW report claims there was more than 700 ‘illegal’ discharges of untreated sewage from Thames Water treatment works in the space of two years.

The report, penned by former University College London professor, Peter Hammond, suggests Witney was ranked sixth for total hours of spilling sewage to watercourses of all the parliamentary constituencies in 2019.

The review also claims the sewage treatment works (STWs) in Carterton has ‘probably’ been working at full capacity for more than five years, while the report says there was 26 ‘illegal’ discharges of untreated sewage from the Chipping Norton STWs between January 2020 and April of this year.

Across 13 Thames Water STWs, the report – published in conjunction with Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP) – says there was a total of 735 ‘illegal’ discharges of untreated sewage between 2018 and 2020.

When consulted on the figures by this newspaper, Thames Water said the data had not been verified by the water giant.

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The report blasts Thames for its ‘poor record-keeping’ and ‘poor management’ of sewage works.

The review states: “Thames Water has demonstrated poor record-keeping and an inability to oversee the installation of EDM (event duration monitoring) devices that record spills of sewage from storm tanks used temporarily to hold untreated sewage while adverse weather is causing the extra inflow to a sewage works.

“The results of the review are a shocking indictment of Thames Water’s poor management of these works and their disregard for the environment.

“Operator self-monitoring is not working and neither is the regulation of STW permit compliance.”

The WASP review claims some sewage spills occurred for as long as six months ‘without respite’.

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A spokesperson for Thames Water confirmed the company had received the report and said its aim is to always try and do the right thing for rivers and communities.

The spokesperson said: “We’ve received the report and will be looking at it carefully in the coming days.

“We regard all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable and will work with the Government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary.

“Our planned investment in our sewer network and the upgrading of sewage treatment works, including Oxford, Ampney St Peter and Fairford, will help improve the situation.

“Our aim will always be to try and do the right thing for our rivers and for the communities who love and value them.

“We have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.”