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Thames Water denies River Lambourn sewage dump

THAMES Water has denied claims that it has been pumping untreated sewage into the River Lambourn at East Garston.

This newspaper recently reported how a multi-thousand pound project by the utility giant appears to have reduced sewer flooding across the Lambourn Valley.

The relining and sealing work was deemed so successful that the approach is being replicated in other villages, including East Garston, where around £30,000 is currently being spent relining 50m metres of sewers in Front Street and Station Road.

However, the story prompted a response from East Garston resident Martyn Wright, a member of the Lambourn Valley Flood Forum, who said: “It is correct to say that, certainly in East Garston, there were no tankers used to take away excess sewage over the past winter months, and the work carried out upstream by Thames Water must have had a beneficial effect.”

river (48185027)
river (48185027)

However, he added: “The real reason that no tankers had to be used was that the excess untreated sewage was pumped directly into the River Lambourn, as it has been for many years when the groundwater rises and infiltrates the sewer system.”

As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Special Area of Conservation, the River Lambourn is supposed to be afforded the highest possible level of protection from pollution.

Mr Wright told the Newbury Weekly News: “The real damage to our ‘pristine’ river is done by... detergents, bleach and all sorts of assorted chemicals, that kill off the insects, flies and other fauna that are essential to the life of the river, and require clean water to survive.”

A spokeswoman for Thames Water said: “We didn’t divert any unfiltered sewage to the River Lambourn.

“We had a special filter unit situated in Lambourn village for five weeks which the excess waste water was passed through before being released to the river.

“The filter removes ammonia and other harmful pollutants found in wastewater.

“We also used it in 2020 but needed it for three months then so, despite this winter being wetter, we didn’t need it anywhere near as long which proves what a difference the relining and manhole sealing work has made.”

She added: “We’re aware the River Lambourn is a SSSI and for this very reason we had independent scientists test the river water three times a week.

“They recorded no ammonia in the water and no changes at all in PH levels or levels of the chemical NH4 in the river, which are further indicators of river health.

“This shows there was no detrimental effect on the watercourse and the filter unit did the job it was designed to do.”

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