Our waterways are a national treasure - shame on you, you horrid, greedy polluters

6 September 2023, 10:54

Water companies have been accused of just paying 'lip service' to restricting sewage outflow
Water companies have been accused of just paying 'lip service' to restricting sewage outflow. Picture: Alamy

By Debbie Campbell

When I moved to the Cotswolds, I was already a rep for Surfers Against Sewage and was fortunate enough to volunteer with Ashley Smith from Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP). It was via him that I became a part-time environmental officer for the Cotswolds River Trust.

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In the last two years, river pollution has risen up the leaderboard of environmental issues. These issues include road runoff - causing massive amounts of silt and car oil to enter the rivers (which is the highway's responsibility) - farmers spraying pesticides or raw sewage near water courses, and the big one is water companies polluting our rivers for profit.

From my perspective, the water companies just pay lip service to restricting sewage outflow and carry on regardless.

Ofwat needs to get some testosterone and lay into these overpaid underperforming entities.

Renationalising is too expensive but capping executive pay? Stopping dividends for the next 10 years? And being brutal to companies who have been brutal to our rivers and treated the general public as idiots?

I am a mother of two young children. We are all water babies and find swimming in the wilderness our happy place.

I now must be very mindful before we enter any river course, testing for phosphate and nitrate. I do not want my children go through what I went through when I was sick a few years ago.

Read more: Five people fall ill every day after swimming in Britain's polluted waters, as Feargal Sharkey reveals brush with death

In my opinion, fines need to be greater and action real and tangible.

That said, I am not anti-Tory. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown in the Cotswolds has taken river pollution to his heart and been out cleaning up with me. But he needs to get the government to get real and stop the pollution

And maybe those people who pollute don’t give two hoots for my opinion but they will as their waterways turn into treacle or smell and foam and we all lose a national treasure.

I think shame on you, you horrid, greedy polluters.