Image: A outfall draining into the Thames
The London Waterkeeper, a charity dedicated to cleaning up London’s waterways and defending a “Thames fit to swim in” is running a petition to demand that Ofwat – the water industry regulator – hold Thames Water to a higher standard.
As we’ve reported previously, the Thames is sometimes fit to swim in. But not always. One of the problems is the large number of polluting surface water outfalls (PSWOs) that discharge into the river. The Zoological Society of London estimates there are more than 1,000 of these in London alone.
Thames Water is required to submit business plans to Ofwat detailing, among other things, the measures it is taking to reduce pollution through dealing with PSWOs. According to the London Waterkeeper petition:
“In Thames Water's recently submitted Business Plan it proposed a 2.5x increase in tackling the number of river polluting surface water outfalls between 2020-25. This isn't enough.
“As the regulators of the water industry we call on you [Ofwat] to defend London's rivers and instruct Thames Water to increase by 5x the efforts to reduce the number of polluting outfalls, compared to the current Business Plan. This would set the target at 1,000.”
The current plan would only tackle around half of the known outfalls by 2025.
The London Waterkeeper acknowledges that Thames Water has a highly effective team in place to address this problem but says it is too small to do the job that’s required to properly clean up the river.
Theo Thomas of the London Waterkeeper says: “The regulators have a duty to prevent pollution. London Waterkeeper’s petition reminds them of this.”
You can find out more and sign the petition here.