Windermere Lake District: Man begins weekly strike outside United Utilities centre demanding it stops spilling sewage into Lake Windermere
Campaigner Matt Staniek is holding a weekly protest demanding United Utilities stops spilling sewage into Lake Windermere
A campaigner demanding an end to sewage being poured into England’s largest lake has begun a weekly protest outside United Utilities’ new information centre in Windermere. Matt Staniek, a 27-year-old campaigner and zoology graduate, said he will be outside of the centre “every Monday from 9am to 10am until a commitment is made to stop putting sewage into Windermere”.
Staniek is the founder of Save Windermere, a campaign born from the statistic that over 7,000 hours of untreated sewage was flowing into Lake Windermere in 2020. According to Environment Agency data there were 246 days in 2022 when sewage was discharged by United Utilities from storm overflows into Windermere lakes.
In a social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Staniek demanding United Utilities to “stop putting s*** in our lake” and called on Greta Thunberg to join the strike as well as Feargal Sharkey, former singer and fierce sewage campaigner. Sharkey replied to his post saying: “I absolutely love this man”. While TV presenter Michaela Strachan also posted: “Have so much respect for @MattStaniek. He’s such a legend. Causing minor s*** to solve major s***! Hope lots of people can join him on his mission”.
In a video posted to X, Staniek said: “We at ‘Save Windermere’ strongly believe that instead of spending money on a brand new Information Centre they should have instead invested in the problem. The problem being that they discharge and have discharged millions upon millions litres of s***into our lake. Join me here every Monday for the strike against sewage.”
Staniek told NationalWorld that his campaign is “fighting for the future generations’ right to a clean lake” and said the situation is due to “insufficient action by both the government and United Utilities”. He added that there has been “no sufficient investment in infrastructure capacity or infiltration reduction methods to keep up with population and tourism growth” and “the regulator has failed to hold the water companies to account”.
Lake Windermere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of England’s most popular visitor destinations with over 12 million visitor days in a single year. Staniek said: “How could we let this happen to such an incredible national asset? It is vital that Windermere is prioritised in this national conversation. If we can achieve change for Windermere, the effects of this will benefit every other river, lake and coastline in this country.”
Staniek told NationalWorld that the “iconic” lake will also be plagued with blue-green algae “for decades” because of “how much damage has already been done”. Sewage runoff from rivers entering into Lake Windermere is a factor causing blue-green algae to bloom and take over the lake turning it a green colour. He said in summer last year the lake had one of its largest blue-green algal blooms “encompassing the entire north basin” showing “just how under threat it is” and it is a “worrying sign of things to come”.
A United Utilities spokesperson said its Windermere information centre "has been open for three months and it’s been great to meet with so many of our customers and visitors to the area." The spokesperson added: "Over the last 20 years we have invested more than £75m improving our wastewater services around Windermere which has halved the levels of phosphorus entering the lake since 2015. We have plans to invest a further £41m up to 2030, part of a record £13.7 billion programme across the North West.
"We will also be holding drop in events later this month so that people can find out more about the specific improvement work we have planned for Windermere over the next two years. These are between 2pm-7pm on Monday 20 November at Hawkshead Market Hall, Hawkshead; Tuesday 21 November at Marchesi Centre, Windermere; and Wednesday 22 November".