The Mayor of London has called for more investment to prevent sewage overflowing into the Thames and harming wildlife. London’s sewers, which were largely built in the nineteenth century, struggle to cope with the amount of rain London receives without overflowing into the Thames.
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: “London is a world class city and our drainage network must be invested in to keep our river a world class river. Having looked at all possible options and following extensive research I believe that Ofwat should re-examine their draft decision and allow Thames Water to increase their charges so that work on a sewer tunnel scheme can progress.
I am convinced that a sewer tunnel scheme is the most appropriate solution to the problem of untreated sewage discharging into the Thames. This overflow tunnel would link thirty five or so overflow points running from approximately Hammersmith to Thamesmead and would be about seven metres in diameter, which is slightly larger than one of the proposed Crossrail tunnels. I will lobby Elliot Morley the Minister for the Environment to ask him to examine Ofwat’s decision.
I am committed to a healthy and clean environment for Londoners. The Thames is an important source of biodiversity, it is a big draw for tourism in London and it has an important role in providing leisure facilities for Londoners. We need to act now to keep the Thames clean.”
Peter Spillet, Head of Environment, Quality and Sustainability for Thames Water today told the Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee that a lack of agreement on sewage disposal meant that up to 20 million tonnes of raw sewage will continue to be flushed into the Thames every year, killing thousands of fish and posing a threat to human health.
Joanne McCartney, Chair of the Committee, said: “We just can’t carry on like this. London is a World Class City – it is unacceptable that huge amounts of raw sewage, which includes human waste and sanitary products is released into our river up to 60 times a year and has been for years. The problems are longstanding and yet still nothing has even been started.