UPDATE: Thames Water defend replacement of river water with ‘treated effluent’ despite government delays

By Oliver Monk

13th May 2024 | Local News

Dirty looks: Talks between local MPs with Thames Water prove unproductive. (Photo: Munira Wilson MP)
Dirty looks: Talks between local MPs with Thames Water prove unproductive. (Photo: Munira Wilson MP)

Thames Water have reaffirmed their commitment to their plan to replace river water with treated sewage around Teddington despite discussions between their CEO and local MPs.

Liberal Democrat MPs Munira Wilson, Ed Davey, and Sarah Olney, along with Labour MP Ruth Cadbury met with Chris Weston, CEO of Thames Water, on 16 April in a bid to scrap the company's controversial Teddington Direct River Abstraction (DRA) scheme.

However, the group reportedly made little headway with the water company, with no agreement being reached.

A spokesperson for Twickenham MP Munira Wilson says there is still "positive news" for residents, stating: "The government has delayed its decision on the proposals and asked Thames Water to provide more information. 

"This is no doubt because of the pressure that campaign groups, residents, local councillors and MPs have been putting on the Government and Thames Water."

Meanwhile, Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney said: "During the meeting, Mr Weston did commit to greater transparency around the project and reassured us that this proposal was not yet a done deal."

Mr Weston has previously met with Ms Olney and Ms Wilson to discuss Thames Water's plans. (Photo: Sarah Olney)

The DRA proposals would see treated sewage pumped into the Thames at Teddington Lock, while river water would be sent to the Lee Valley to help safeguard water access in case of drought.

Thames Water has said the scheme was chosen among alternatives using a "best value" system, although MPs have expressed concerns that environmental factors were not accounted for during the decision-making process.

If completed, the scheme will pump up to 75 million litres of effluent into the Thames a day, as well as temporarily destroy 17 acres of nature reserves, conservation areas, and community parks.

A Thames Water spokesperson told Nub News: "We want to reassure local people that no untreated sewage will be transferred into the River Thames through our scheme proposals."

They explained the 'treated recycled water' will be put through an additional stage of treatment to "protect the river's water quality".

"The scheme we're proposing isn't any different to the normal water supply system," they added.

Local residents have protested the controversial plans in the past, such as a march by campaign group Save Ham Lands and River in November 2023.

Campaign leader Ian McNuff making a speech during August's protest. (Photo: Emily Dalton)

Nub News contacted Thames Water for a statement regarding the Teddington DRA plans on Wednesday 8 May. 

Upon the article being published, a company spokesperson said the following: A Thames Water spokesperson said: "With London's population forecast to grow to 12 million by 2050 and the UK set to experience more extreme heat events, we believe the Teddington Direct River Abstraction project will help us meet future demand during drought and ensure we keep the taps flowing for our customers. 

"Community consultation is at the heart of the process and we will continue to engage with the public, informing them of our plans and listening to their views."

Thames Water provided a diagram of the Teddington Direct River Abstraction scheme alongside their statement. (Photo: Thames Water)


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