Thames Water described as a 'disaster of a water company' by MPs over sewage spill

  • ITV News Meridian reporter Penny Silvester has been to the River Loddon

Thames Water - the country's biggest water supplier - has been described as a "disaster of a water company" by MPs during a debate about its performance.

The comments came as Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran described the company's "shoddy performance" after it dumped sewage over thousands of hours last year.

She called for the supplier to become a public interest company which would force it to put its customers before profits and clean up its act to protect waterways.

Ms Moran said: "Across the network, Thames Water spilled sewage for 6,500 hours in the last nine months of 2023.

"This pollutes our waterways, damages the natural environment, and poses serious health risks to wildlife, pets and humans.

"We need radical action, we need to protect our environment and we need to bring down people's bills.

"The Liberal Democrats are calling for England's water companies to be transformed into public benefit companies."

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A report from the Angling Trust has found that 83% of rivers across England have high levels of pollution which it says puts local ecosystems at risk. It's calling for tougher legislation.

An army of volunteers regularly take water samples in rivers, including the Loddon, to test for pollution.

Stuart Singleton-White, The Angling Trust, said: "We've done over 200 tests across the year here on the Loddon and we're getting that consistent failure rate for phosphate levels.

"While we've been doing those tests, on six incidents across the year, we've also actually physically seen pollution in the Loddon and its tributaries flowing downstream while we've been testing.

"So the Loddon has a serious problem and Thames Water really do need to step up their action to protect this really important river."

A spokesperson for Thames Water told us that action is being taken to improve the health of rivers and it is installing specialist equipment to remove phosphorus from its sewage treatment works.

It also acknowledges it has more to do to reduce pollution levels.

A spokesperson for the Environment Department, Defra, said it is taking comprehensive action through more investment and tougher regulation.

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