Sewage dumped in Oxfordshire river reaches water meant to be safe for swimming

Watch: Campaigners tell ITV News Meridian that Thames Water needs to act after sewage spills reach water meant to be safe for swimmers

Environmental campaigners say public health is being put at risk after raw sewage was released into the River Thames in Oxfordshire over Christmas.

Untreated sewage has poured straight into the Colwell Brook at Witney from the adjacent sewage works.

Below the surface, a murky cocktail of toxic substances is causing the growth of sewage fungus.

Ash Smith, the founder of Windrush Against Sewage Pollution said: "So everything that you see on the supermarket shelves, all those chemicals that are labeled harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects, many of them, all of the the bodily fluids, the food waste, everything that went down the toilet, the Christmas... whatever has gone down there.

"The consequence is environmental damage, and a risk to public health...that has to stop."

The sewage will eventually make its way into the Thames, and downriver to Port Meadow in Oxford which gained bathing water status just this year.

Below the surface, a murky cocktail of toxic substances is causing the growth of sewage fungus. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Thames Water is the single biggest polluter of rivers in the Thames basin, and despite allowing the spill to go on for much of the last week, even the company say it is "unacceptable."

It says it will be spending £2billion on fixing leakages and improving river health.

A spokesperson said: "We've committed to a 50% reduction in the total annual duration of spills across London and the Thames Valley by 2030, and within that an 80% reduction in sensitive catchments."

However clean water campaigners say the investment is not good enough.

Ash said: "I think it's far too little, far too late. They just made almost half a billion pounds profit in the first six months of the year. Why were they not spending on fixing things like this right across the region?'

The water company is warning anyone keen on a dip for New Year's, and that it can take up to four days for pollution to clear.