Video: ‘Disgusting’ treated sewage water with ‘undigested sweetcorn’ spotted in River Thames

Ashley Smith filmed the water and saw “brown bacterial floc” as well as the “occasional sanitary product and condom”
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“Disgusting” treated sewage water which contained “undigested sweetcorn” and “condoms” was spotted in the River Thames by a campaigner.

Ashley Smith, from the campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, told NationalWorld he saw the true state of what is in treated sewage water that is pumped into rivers.

In March last year, he filmed the water in the River Thames, located around 3km upstream of the designated bathing water site at Port Meadow Oxford.

He said the water contained treated effluent from Cassington Sewage Works which deals with sewage from around 18,000 people.

He told NationalWorld that what he saw in the river “was frankly disgusting” and contained “visible pieces of kitchen paper, undigested sweetcorn that can pass through people, brown bacterial floc, and even the occasional sanitary product and condom.”

‘Disgusting’ treated sewage with ‘sweetcorn’ spotted in River Thames. (Photo: Ashley Smith, ‘Disgusting’ treated sewage with ‘sweetcorn’ spotted in River Thames. (Photo: Ashley Smith,
‘Disgusting’ treated sewage with ‘sweetcorn’ spotted in River Thames. (Photo: Ashley Smith,

Mr Smith added that he raised the issue with the water company and it “even shocked the Thames Water staff that became involved in investigating it while the Environment Agency simply passed it as okay”.

He said that our waters are being “treated as toilets on behalf of shareholders that have made a fortune out of shortchanging the billpayer and exploiting pathetic regulation.”

He added that regulations “have been broken on an epic scale” and it will continue “until we get a government that does not put the bottom line of criminally polluting companies above the welfare of the country.”

Thames Water said it had similar footage enquiries last year around the same time but the “final effluent from the outfall pipe was within its permit limits”.

In an updated statement the water company said: “We checked the operation of Cassington sewage works in 2022 and the treated final effluent from the outfall pipe was within its permit limits and all flows were being fully treated.

“Last year our extensive investigation of Cassington sewage works confirmed the site is performing as it was designed to do and is fully compliant with its permit conditions. The site did not discharge any untreated sewage in 2022 and the treated effluent has consistently met the required standards.”

The water company added that it “accepts that it is unsightly” and it is “working towards improving the situation.” While the an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “A member of WASP reported sewage in the Thames downstream of an outfall for Cassington sewage treatment works on 16 March 2022. An Environment Agency officer visited the site and took a water sample, the results of which were at a level within Cassington’s permits. There was no evidence of any impacts to wildlife or the environment.”

It comes after the CEO of Thames Water, Cathryn Ross, said on Wednesday 13 September, that she would happily “take a dip” in a river that is full of treated sewage.

She was challenged at the meeting by Liberal Democrat Hina Bokhair who said campaigners would be “keen to see whether you will take a dip” in treated sewage water.

Ross responded: “Yes. I would take a dip in a river where we had discharged fully treated effluent.”

Her comments came despite confirming at the same meeting that treated sewage water still contains “some bacteria” and is not disinfected.

Mr Smith warned Ross to be “very cautious” and “choose sewage works carefully.”

He said: “The liquid still contains very high levels of coliform bacteria as well as chemicals, hormones, and drugs as well as resistant bacteria, so, if Ms Ross does swim in any I would suggest she is very cautious and chooses the sewage works carefully because some of them discharge visibly shocking effluent even containing undigested food which still allegedly complies with Environment Agency permit standards.”

NationalWorld has contacted the Environment Agency for comment.

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