'It's a crime': Naturalist Steve Backshall's damning verdict on Thames Water

6 July 2023, 22:58

Steve Backshall shares anger at Thames Water

By Abbie Reynolds

Even after appealing to Thames Water about the safety of children, they wouldn't provide the relevant information about water safety, Steve Backshall tells Tom Swarbrick.

Mr Backshall told Tom Swarbrick that he found River Action had discovered "unpleasant things" whilst testing the Henley course. And so he decided to work with them to test the water in the Thames near his home.

In the River Thames right outside his house, where his children are learning to swim, he said they found "double the safe amount of phosphate and more than five times the safe amounts of nitrates".

His concern continued as he said: "Up at Henley they found things like E.coli and down here wild swimmers have been getting things like giardia and gastroenteritis.

"It's all from sewage outages from, I'm sad to say it, Thames Water."

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He described his findings as "just so unbelievably sad".

"I think that since the pandemic, people have really started to rediscover the river as a place that they can go for an escape, as a place to go and watch wildlife as a place to get some exercise.

"People chill out and hang out and have barbecues alongside the river here. It's been massively rediscovered for the fabulous treasure that it is, at the same time as the water companies are filling it with effluent," the Naturalist said.

READ MORE: It can't be up to us to pick up the bill for water company failings

"
I'm incredibly angry, personally," he said, remembering an incident back in 2020 where there was a big water outage. He said Thames Water refused to take "responsibility" and even sent staff to test the water during the night so residents wouldn't be aware of it.

He went on: "When we appealed to them directly saying, 'Look, this could harm our children', it [Thames Water] still wouldn't help us out with the knowledge that we needed."

Referencing the Thames Water scandal which sees the company in £14 billion worth of debt, he said: "When we hear about the broader problems facing our water companies and the imminent collapse of Thames Water and the fact that they've been selling off their resources since they took them on,

"Selling off reservoirs and essentially asset stripping these utilities, that should be they should belong to us. it's a crime."

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