Protesters seen outside Reading’s Thames Water offices

PROTESTERS with bunting made from tampons, sanitary pads and condoms were spotted outside Thames Water’s offices this morning.

Members of River Swimming Groups and members of Extinction Rebellion protested outside Thames Water Offices and the Environment Agency Office in central Reading this morning.

They dressed in a variety of costumes, including a poo emoji and danced to music, ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears.

The protesters said it was to “draw attention to the issue of increasing amounts of raw sewage being discharged into rivers by Thames Water, and the failure of the Environment Agency to effectively regulate discharge”.

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Bunting made from tampons, sanitary pads and condoms were draped around the Thames Water company sign to represent the sewage items the protesters believe are being discharged into rivers by water companies.

Cardboard signs were also spotted which read: “Stop dumping raw sewage in our rivers!”

Martyn, an activist and river swimmer, said: “The water companies often breach their permits, and release raw sewage into the rivers when they are not allowed to.

“The Environment Agency, who are supposed to protect our rivers are not prosecuting the Water Companies when they illegally dump sewage.

“And it’s getting worse, with more sewage being dumped each year.

“It’s not acceptable.

“With more and more people enjoying and using the river during the pandemic, it’s just disgusting that this is happening.”

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A spokesperson for Thames Water explained when the sewers get full up with rainwater the in-built overflow points allow excess diluted sewage to flow into a watercourse to prevent the system backing up and flooding properties, roads etc.

They added: “It’s our view that discharges of untreated sewage are simply unacceptable, even when they are legally permitted, and we’ll work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary.

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

“Our aim will always be to try and do the right thing for our rivers and for the communities who love and value them.

“We’re proud of our important role as one of the custodians of these incredible environments and are committed to working tirelessly to protect and enhance them.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “We take our responsibility to protect the environment very seriously.

“Water companies have a legal duty to avoid pollution and must act quickly to reduce any damage that happens as a result of their activities.

“The regulations are clear and are enforced robustly.

“In the past six years, the Environment Agency has brought 48 prosecutions against water companies, securing fines of £35 million.”

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre