Residents in a Buckinghamshire town have joined a TV presenter calling for action to be taken against Thames Water after 'thousands of litres of raw sewage' were discharged near a local nature reserve.

Thames Water discharged sewage into the River Thames via a stream on Church Road in Marlow for nearly 17 hours on Friday, February 9, according to data from the company's event duration monitoring (EDM) storm discharge map.

The river, which likely accumulated thousands of litres of raw sewage discharge, also flows into the Spade Oak Lake nature reserve, a regionally significant site for migrating and breeding wading birds.

TV presenter and naturalist Steve Backshall, who lives near Maidenhead, has now joined the chorus of Marlow residents criticising the water company and emphasised the long-term impact on wildlife of such periods of sustained sewage discharge.

He said: “This precious stretch of river is home to kingfishers, a huge amount of water birds, fish and even a family of otters. Wild swimmers and paddleboarders (also) use the river, even in the winter.

“For days after a big outage, the stench is unbearable, but the effect lasts for months afterwards. Anglers, dog walkers and birders are wading around in human filth, and who knows what the dogs will be eating. Enough is enough!”

Bucks Free Press:

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A spokesperson for local environmental group Wild Marlow also said they had been "saddened and angered" by what they described as a "catastrophic failure" on the part of Thames Water.

Adding: “Thousands of litres of sewage were dumped for 16-plus hours into the river, as well as a large amount of hazardous contamination in nearby streams and lakes.

“This is such an important area for wildlife – our water vole project team regularly spots signs of protected species using these waterways – and that wildlife is now at risk. It wasn’t very long ago that we saw dozens of dead birds at Spade Oak Lake, very soon after a similar failure.

“Do we have to wait for the River Thames to be declared ecologically dead again before something is done?”

Bucks Free Press:

A representative for Thames Water said they regard all sewage discharges as “unacceptable” but attributed Friday’s spill to “the excessively heavy rain that our region has experienced since early January” which has caused groundwater and river levels to remain high and the ground to remain saturated.

“All these issues combined mean there is nowhere for further rain or other flow from nearby land to go and therefore our sewers are struggling to cope.

“The overflows are designed to operate automatically when the sewer network is about to be overwhelmed which then releases diluted wastewater into rivers, rather than letting it back up into people’s homes.

“We have published plans to upgrade over 250 of our sewage treatment works and sewers across the Thames Valley, including Little Marlow Sewage Treatment Works. This will improve our ability to treat the high volumes of incoming sewage and reduce the need for overflows during wet weather.”