South Oxfordshire District Council’s (SODC) ‘Water Champion’, Jo Robb, has written to the newly appointed chairman of the Government’s Storm Overflows Taskforce calling for improvements to the quality of water in the Thames.
Ms Robb is responsible for working to improve cleanliness, biodiversity and access to the River Thames. She is a year-round swimmer in the river. In her letter to the minister, Rebecca Pow, she says that in the past year there has seen a huge increase in the numbers of people enjoying bathing, paddle boarding and wild swimming in the Thames.
Last month the council unanimously passed a motion supporting more stringent regulation and enforcement on pollution, cleaner water, accurate real-time and publicly available information on sewage discharges and enhanced public information on water quality.
Ms Robb said: “Sewage infrastructure across South Oxfordshire’s stretch of the Thames is facing the dual pressures of increased precipitation caused by climate change and a rapidly increasing population. By 2034, our population will have increased by more than 50% from today.”
“Our sewerage system is struggling to meet the needs of the present population, let alone that of the future. In the first six months of 2020, treatment works at Benson and Didcot spilled raw or partially treated effluent for more than 800 hours each. Long-term solutions and a detailed plan are needed for the protection of our rivers and streams”.