A letter from Thames Water, April 2024

Congratulations to Lambourn.org, the latest in a long line of organisations which has been pressing Thames Water for a solution to the local sewage problem – lord knows how many times I’ve typed that phrase recently. Its petition attracted well over 1,000 signatures and you can read more on Lambourn.org’s excellent website here.

It’s good that TW replied, and fairly quickly, but the letter (which is reproduced in full on the above site) seems once again to have been written more with an eye on PR than H2O. Although a notch up from the one sent in early March (very poorly received in these parts) which placed most of the blame on “sewer abuse”, here the attack has shifted to another target: the recent high rainfall and thus high groundwater levels. Seven of the letter’s 15 paragraphs are wholly or partly concerned with this issue. Yes, we all know it’s been wet. Such wet seasons can be expected again. A sewerage system which relies on low groundwater levels is, however, clearly not up to the job.

The letter also refers to a number of measures that have been taken including filtration units, tankers and clean-ups (which, in Eastbuty at least, seem to have involved sloshing an alarming amount of disinfectant onto the road some of which would have ended up in the river). These are, however, remedial and reactive measures and thus proofs of failure.

True, there are some promises of more proactive work and time will tell if these are indeed implemented and have the desired effect. The letter also mentioned that “we will continue to work with the newly formed Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley (SAGLUV), to provide regular updates and receive feedback which we can implement to support future incidents.” I’m sure we can rely on SAGLUV to keep TW focussed on the task.

Such petitions are one way, and a good one, of keeping TW aware of the level of feeling in the area. If future ones are promoted by Lambourn.org we recommend that you sign it. It will also be worth studying any response that follows. This one is an improvement on its predecessor but the communications still have some way to go. Much the same can be said of the sewerage repairs.

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