Plans to pump sewage into River Thames press on due to water resource challenges - despite 24,000 objecting

The water will be transferred via an existing underground tunnel due to the “changing climate” and "the scale of the water resource challenge"

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Thames Water is pressing ahead with plans to pump the River Thames with treated sewage water despite 24,000 signing a petition objecting to the scheme.

The plan includes a proposal to take water from the River Thames above Teddington Weir and replace it with treated wastewater from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works.

The water will be transferred via an existing underground tunnel to the Lee Valley reservoirs.

Nevil Muncaster, strategic resources director at Thames Water, said it is one way to adapt to “our changing climate” and these changes must be made to "the scale of the water resource challenge".

He said: "We must find ways to adapt to our changing climate, supply water to more people as our population grows, and reduce the amount of water we take from our rivers and chalk streams to protect the environment."

Thames Water said it was the "cheapest" option available to provide enough water to increase drought resilience in London to a one in 200-year level.

It predicts it will need an extra billion litres of water a day by 2075 due to climate change and growing population demand.

The scheme would provide up to 75 million litres of water a day during droughts and dry weather but it would not be designed to run at these levels all year.

A public consultation was ongoing between December 2022 and March 2023, with Thames Water subsequently submitting a draft water resources management plan on Thursday (31 August).

The plans are still being pressed forward despite a petition, created in January by Fiona Jones from Teddington, which raised concerns about the impact of the scheme on fish, insects and plants.

The petition says that the scheme “may impact the biodiversity of the river including changes in the water temperature, oxygen levels and its chemical make-up”.

It added that fines imposed for breaches of regulations would not be enough to protect the river and the three and a half year construction will have a “devastating effect on a much-loved part of the river, its bank and the surrounding areas in Ham, Teddington and Richmond”.

The company’s statement of response to the consultation, published with the updated plan, said work completed to date shows the Teddington scheme "poses a low risk to the environment and river users" and remains one of its "preferred schemes".

The proposed delivery date has been moved later to 2033 so extra monitoring and assessments can be completed.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will also consider the documents submitted by Thames Water and, with advice from regulators, decide on the next steps.