Wild swimmers alongside rowers, anglers and other river users protested against Thames Water’s plans to abstract millions of gallons of water from the Thames and replace it with sewage effluent
Thames Water want to remove up to a third of the water from the Thames near Teddington Lock and pump it to storage reservoirs in North London. To maintain flow, they intend to replace the fresh water they remove with effluent from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works.
The company say the project is needed to guard against future water shortages and that it is the best value option out of the alternatives they had evaluated.
But last Saturday (9 September), hundreds of river users joined forces in a demonstration at the proposed abstraction point to say they disagree. Rowers, kayakers, outdoor swimmers, anglers, dragon boat paddlers and tow-path walkers came together to demand that Thames Water thinks again.
“This plan stinks!”
“Save our rivers!”
“Fix the leaks!”
The chants echoed up and down the river.
Local campaigner Ian McNuff, from Save Ham Lands and Rivers, told demonstrators that there are: “better and greener alternatives. They [Thames Water] need to work harder and find better solutions.”
Marlene Lawrence, founder of the local Teddington Bluetits river swimming group, which has more than 1,400 members, spoke about her love of river swimming and the joy it brings, and asked: “would you swim in Thames Water’s effluent?”
Other campaigners explained that not only will there be long-term damage to the river’s ecosystem and potential health implications for river users, the project will also require the construction of large concrete structures adjacent to the river and along the route of the pipeline bringing in the effluent. Parts of this will be built on protected nature reserve green spaces.
London Assembly member Hina Bokhari joined the protesters and said she, along with her parliamentary counterparts, would ensure they hold both Thames Water and the government to account and make sure river users’ concerns were listened to.
Thames Water hopes to have the scheme operational by 2033. Their proposals are currently being reviewed by the government.
A petition calling on Thames Water to abandon the project has now been signed by 25,000 people. You can add your name here: https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-abstraction-plant-at-teddington-weir-and-releasing-treated-sewage-into-the-river
Find out more about the campaign here: https://www.savehamlandsandriver.org.uk/