Flash Flooding caused environmental catastrophe

Environmental catastrophe as raw sewage pumped into Thames

  W4's roads hit harder than SW15's!
 Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

The floods on Tuesday had tragic consequences with the downpour forcing Thames Water to pump one million tons of sewage into the river to avoid waste water flowing onto the streets. The discharge caused the worst pollution incident in the Thames for nearly two decades with tens of thousands of fish in the Kew and Brentford area being killed. According to the Environment Agency although there are only a limited number of dead fish on the foreshore there are thousands more on the bottom. They say fish stocks could take at least two years to recover.

Thames Water, who have just announced a 16% increase in charges, insisted that they had no other option. The pumping of raw sewage into the Thames is a regular occurrence during times of heavy rainfall but this incident was unusual in its intensity. The capital investment necessary to avoid such occurrences would be £1 billion. This would involve a giant channel 20 miles long being built to funnel excess water during stormy weather.

Robin Clarke, Director of Waste Water Operations at Thames Water, said:

"We deeply regret the loss of fish in the Thames last night. We are working with the EA to minimise the impact of the pollution that occurred following the violent storms in the capital, which saw 42mm of rain fall in just one hour.

"The scale of the fish loss last night was very rare - a very unfortunate side effect of the exceptionally heavy rainfall.

The Environment Agency has instructed Thames Water to add hydrogen peroxide to improve the water quality and prevent the loss of further fish stock. The operation may take days to manage as the tidal effect means the storm sewage will move up and down with the current

Ken Livingstone has pointed the finger of blame at local authorities for the way in which storm drains backed up causing widespread flooding on the roads. He said he would be asking them to report on drain cleaning measures following the Summer recess.

August 12, 2004