An emphatic appeal has been made to a water company to prevent raw sewage leaking into rivers in Reading.

According to the Reading Green Party, raw sewage from Reading Sewage Works leaked into the Foundry Brook river six times last year (2021) for a total of 50 hours.

The sewage works are managed by Thames Water.

Now, the Greens are calling on Thames Water to take action to invest in the water network to stop sewage from homes and businesses leaking into rivers.

Councillor Doug Creswell (Green, Katesgrove) said: “We have had residents on Elgar Road, which backs onto the River Kennet, complaining about the smell in the river behind their houses.

“We need more action from Thames Water to tackle the dumping of raw sewage into our rivers in Reading and across the country.

“We want fish not faeces.”

Contamination of the water arises during periods of heavy rainfall.

The excess rainwater causes the sewage treatment works and overflow tanks to fill up, with any additional sewage going straight into the Foundry Brook river untreated.

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The Greens have pointed out that the Environmental Agency slammed water companies for their record on pollution, while Thames Water’s boss Sarah Bentley is paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

The Financial Times reported that Ms Bentley was appointed the chief executive of Thames Water in September 2020, with an annual salary of £750,000 plus a £3.1 million to compensate her for lost bonuses from her former employer, Severn Trent.

Councillor Cresswell continued: “It is utterly shameful that water bosses are taking home millions of pounds of pay and bonuses a year while their companies lay siege to our natural environment by dumping raw sewage into our waterways. Thames water needs to invest more money to eliminate raw sewage overflowing into our rivers.”

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Thames Water has committed to river health targets which it states will improve water quality.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We are committed to protecting and enhancing all our rivers and the communities who love them and want to make these discharges unnecessary as quickly as possible.

“We agree that the Foundry Brook and River Kennet should run with clean water at all times.

“We regard all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable and will work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary and are determined to be transparent.

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“We recently launched our river health commitments which includes a 50 per cent reduction in the total annual duration of spills across London and the Thames Valley by 2030, and within that an 80 per cent reduction in sensitive catchments.

“We have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.”