Boat used by children smeared with excrement from filthy River Thames

A rower told ITV News how excrement had to be washed off the filthy boat

A group of rowers washed human excrement from a boat used to entertain children during the Easter holidays after a trip along a filthy section of the River Thames.

Fulham Reach Boat Club said sewage got stuck to one of its boats on Monday and the recent heavy rain meant they had seen a lot of "gross stuff" in the river.

The filthy discovery came as ITV News London learned the amount of sewage in the mouth of the Thames was more than eight times higher than the UK average.

The Marine Conservation Society also said Londoners were 14 times more likely to find wet wipes in the capital's famous river than elsewhere in the UK.

"We are very aware [of sewage] especially when we have stormy weather we often see the sewage floating up and down in the river," said Alastair Horne from Fulham Rach Boat Club.

"It's disgusting. The boats all need washing down and then we have to get all the children in to wash their hands.

"It's always been there but we do see the affect more when we have heavy rain. We don't want to alarm the children so try not to highlight the problem.

"But you literally see the sewage floating past it'll come in on the flood and go out on the ebb. You're aware it's there but you're out there looking after the kids so their safety comes first," he explained.

Alastair Horne also spoke of the moment he witnessed a huge sewage fountain erupt by the side of the River Thames.

[Video: Twitter/@THURYBJORK]

He said the jet of water was up to 25 feet high "and coming in our direction".

On Tuesday it was announced water companies would face unlimited fines for dumping sewage into Britain's rivers and wet wipes containing plastic could be banned.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey set out the department's Plan for Water in a speech at the London Wetland Centre.

Ms Coffey said water companies would face bigger penalties for breaking the law and face tougher regulation, including more inspections and greater pressure to invest in infrastructure that will prevent sewage pollution.Local Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney, said she was tired of hearing promises wanted to see more action.

"What this government is saying is they want to do more to clean up the water. But we have had 40,000 discharges of sewage here in Richmond into the River Thames and we need action not words.

"We need the government to put more pressure onto the water companies to make sure they are doing their bit to clean up our rivers.

"We need stricter regulation to clean up our rivers."

Thames Water said it was looking forward to getting a "more detail on the proposed Plan for Water". 

A statement added: "We particularly welcome the proposal to ban wet wipes containing plastic, which would make a big contribution to reducing blockages in our network and therefore reducing sewer flooding.

"We also welcome the launch of a new National Policy Statement on Water Resources, which would support us in our drive to increase resilience to address pressure on water supplies for years to come. 

"We support the collaborative approach outlined as a cornerstone of the plan and we will continue to work with the government, regulators and our stakeholders on improving our service and planning for the future."

Thames Water produced a map giving real-time information about when and where sewage and "storm overflow activity" was being discharged.

Map shows real-time information about storm overflow activity Credit: Thames Water

You can use the map to find:

  • overflows currently discharging into a watercourse

  • the date and time of the last recorded discharge.

To get live information for your part of London, CLICK HERE, and type in an address.

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