Preshute and Great Bedwyn pupils give sewage the thumbs-down, 20 June 2023

Pollution from untreated sewage in the River Kennet kept school children out of the water for their safety on 20 June 2023. Action for the River Kennet (ARK) had planned to run a day of river-school activities for pupils from Preshute and Great Bedwyn Primary Schools, but woke to find untreated sewage pouring into the river at three points in Marlborough and were forced tell children they should not enter the river downstream.

“It was so disappointing not to be able to show the children the wildlife that lives in the Kennet,” said Anna Forbes, ‘but we can’t invite children into an environment that we know is polluted with untreated human waste.’

Not only was Marlborough Sewage Treatment works spilling but also the pumping station at Pewsey Road Bridge and the sewer at Stonebridge Lane. Sewage detritus was clearly visible. The spills were triggered by overnight rainfall.

“The sewerage network is not fit for purpose,” Charlotte Hitchmough, ARK’s Director added. “Summer storms are not unusual, and treatment works and sewers should have capacity to manage expected rainfall. Serious investment to upgrade pipes, build sustainable drainage and improve sewage treatment works is needed now to prevent this unnecessary damage to fragile habitats. We need Thames Water to raise its game, and we need the planning authorities to stop allowing development until we are able to deal with the sewage we have, not keep adding to the load.”

Click here for the Rivers Trust map of sewage pollution (click on ‘near real time alerts’ to see current status of spills).

The problem is by no means restricted to this part of the River Kennet. The image below shows the same data taken from Thames Water’s event duration monitoring (EDM) map at 2.38pm on Wednesday 21 June 2023. The orange dots show discharges within the previous 48 hours; the red dots show discharges happening at the time; and the green dots show no discharges in the previous 48 hours.


One Response

  1. Class 4 at Great Bedwyn School were not only sad to miss out on thir filedtrip to investigate the invertebrate in our local, rare, chalk river but also shocked and appalled that is not illegal for Thames Water to spill raw, untreated sewage into them. We have written letters to Danny Kruger ( Our local MP) and are working with ARK (Action for the River Kennet) to build a rain garden in our school to help alleviate our flooded sewer system. Many of Bedwyn Villagers are building rain gardens and we hope that more will get involved to help save our rivers.

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