Utility also urged to take action on local flooding
Hammersmith Bridge at sunset
March 20, 2023
Hammersmith & Fulham Council is calling on Thames Water to tackle local flooding problems and end its sewage dumps in the river.
Recently new data revealed how frequently the water giant pumps raw sewage into the Thames – sometimes for days on end. It follows criticism from water utility regulator Ofwat saying that Thames Water has failed to spend its budget to reduce the local flooding issues that causes its Victorian sewer network to overflow.
A new interactive storm discharge map shows dozens of locations where Thames Water is using storm overflow sites to dump sewage across London. Four of these sites are located on Hammersmith’s riverside, with the latest spillage recorded as recently as 16 January outside the Fulham Reach Boat Club.
Sewage in the Thames is a health risk to river users – specifically the members of H&F’s four boat clubs – but also to local wildlife.
The river is home to more than 125 species of fish and a large number of animals. These include the endangered eel – the European smelt – known to breed near Hammersmith, as well as some seahorses and seals.
Sewage also promotes bacteria which decreases the amount of oxygen available in the water for creatures. Eventually, the lack of oxygen negatively affects the entire food chain.
Environmental groups claim that river dumps have become more of a necessity than an exception to the rule as outdated treatment works are unable to cope even with average amounts of sewage.
And while the new 25km ‘super sewer’ tunnel will help provide more capacity to the sewer network once it opens in 2025, river dumps will remain the norm during intense rainfalls.
The council says that the key to preventing rainwater from overloading the system is to create more sustainable drainage schemes. This infrastructure helps lower the risk of flooding by diverting the rainwater to the ground instead of roadside gullies that push it directly into the sewer network.
In December, water regulator Ofwat told the Guardian, “We expect companies to deliver the service improvements they were funded to deliver.
“The lack of investment … is extremely disappointing, especially in light of the poor performance for customers and the environment. Failure to invest or delays to investments mean that vital improvements are not being made or are late.”
Young members of Fulham Reach Boat Club. Picture: Fulham Reach Boat Club
“Thames Water has to take action now to avoid sewage routinely being dumped in the river and threatening local people’s homes,” said Cllr Sharon Holder, H&F Member for the Public Realm.
“This means investing in drainage schemes, green roofs and rainwater harvesting. In heavy rainfall, it is not acceptable for Thames to use sewage overflows as the norm, damaging where our residents live.”
The council has recently instituted some sustainable drainage schemes locally which have won awards and, according to new government rules, grassed areas and permeable surfaces will become mandatory for new developments in England from 2024 to help solve the problem.
During a period of very heavy rainfall in July 2021, H&F was one of the hardest-hit boroughs in London affected by flooding.
It occurred due to Thames Water’s local sewer network being overwhelmed, with the mixture of sewage and rainwater surging back into local homes and businesses via toilets, baths and sinks. More than 1,500 local properties were flooded.
Thames Water is currently holding a public consultation on its draft Water Resources Management Plan 2024 and any comments must be submitted by Tuesday 21 March.
Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More
This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.
Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.
We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.
However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.
We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.
A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact email@example.com and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.
One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.
If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.
For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.