72 billion litres of sewage pumped into the River Thames in just two years

10 Nov 2023

EMBARGO: Immediate release

  • Liberal Democrats uncover “horrifying revelations” from Information Request to Thames Water

  • Twickenham site suffers from almost 1 billion litres of sewage in just one day

  • Local Liberal Democrat MP slams “environmental crime” and demands Thames Water is “ripped up” to form new company 

The River Thames has suffered from at least 72 billion litres of sewage discharges since 2020, the Liberal Democrats have discovered. 

The party, which issued an Environmental Information Request to Thames Water to obtain the data, has described the discharges as an “environmental crime”.

Water firms have no legal obligation to report the volume of sewage discharged, only the duration of the discharge. Earlier this year, Thames Water refused to hand over data on volume of sewage discharged, at the time labelled a “cover up”.

However, the Liberal Democrats have now found that Thames Water do in fact own sewage monitors which measure volume, and the figures reveal tens of billions litres of sewage pumped into sites across London. 

The capital’s water firm used volume sewage monitors whilst constructing the Thames Tideway project. These are the only known sewage monitors of their kind fitted in the country, and do not cover the entire network. The total volume of sewage discharged into the Thames is therefore likely to be significantly higher than these figures. 

These sewage monitors have revealed that last year alone, at least 14.3 billion litres of sewage was discharged into the Thames. The worst year on record is 2021, where a staggering 32 billion litres of sewage were discharged. 

The worst impacted site since 2020 is Mogden near Twickenham, where 17.1 billion litres of sewage was discharged. On the 28th January 2021, Thames Water discharged almost 1 billion litres of sewage (964 million litres).

The second most impacted site was in East London, where 15.8 billion litres of sewage has been discharged at Crossness since 2020. 

The Liberal Democrat MP for Twickhenham Munira Wilson has called for Thames Water to be ripped up. The Liberal Democrats are demanding water firms become “public good companies” - which includes placing environmentalists on their boards and no longer allowing them to put profit before protecting the environment. 

Munira Wilson MP said: 

“These horrifying revelations are proof that Thames Water needs to be ripped up. It is outrageous that Conservative Ministers continue to sit on their hands and let Thames Water get away with this.  The government is standing idly by whilst our rivers are poisoned and water firm execs pocket millions. 

“The era of water firms putting profit before the environment must come to an end. 

“These water firms are committing environmental crimes which are destroying our rivers and wildlife habitats, all whilst pocketing eye-watering sums of money. 

“What is most shocking is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. With almost every sewage monitor unable to measure the litres of sewage discharged, this figure is likely to enter the trillions. Water firms are fitting monitors which simply aren’t up to the job and hide the true horrors of their filthy sewage habits. 

“The government should force Thames Water to install new monitors which measure the volume of sewage discharged, so we can find the areas which need saving the most from this awful act.”



First reported by Guardian & BBC

Full analysis of Thames Tideway sewage discharges here

Water firms covering up scale of sewage spills, say Lib Dems - BBC News (August 2023)




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