Like many residents, Munira is extremely concerned about Thames Water’s proposals to tackle water shortages by pumping treated sewage into the River above Teddington Lock. Munira believes the proposals should be stopped in their tracks, and has challenged the proposals directly with Thames Water, as well as in Parliament and in the media.

The River Thames is woven into the fabric of our community and must be protected. Munira will continue to challenge Thames Water and the Government on the proposals – particularly with regard to the impact on human health, the environment and biodiversity.

Most recently, Munira has:

  • Condemned Thames Water for doubling the amount of sewage dumped in UK waterways in 2023. Read the LBC article here, the press release here, and the Nub News article here.
  • Presented petition in Parliament, signed by over 700 residents, citing the negative environmental, construction and social impacts of the proposals. Read the news article here and the press release here, and watch the video here.
  • Written to the new CEO of Thames Water, Chris Weston (here).
  • Written to the Environment Secretary (read letter here).
  • Challenged Water Minister Robbie Moore in Parliament (watch Munira’s questions here and here) and met with him in person to again demand that the proposals be scrapped.
  • Met with the head of the Environment Agency, Philip Duffy, to relay concerns about the impact of the proposals on our precious greenspaces, including Ham Lands and Moormead Park.
  • Attended a meeting with interim Thames Water CEO Cathryn Ross, alongside local river stakeholders, councillors and Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Hina Bokhari.
  • Visited Moormead Park with Cllr Katie Mansfield to discuss the impact of the proposals on the park, local residents, sporting groups and nearby houses.
  • Spoke at the public meeting, hosted by Richmond Council, in late November, and submitted a official response to the Thames Water public consultation, which you can read in full here.
  • Munira was disappointed to hear that the Government has decided to let Thames Water go down the national planning route, thereby bypassing scrutiny at the local planning level, and will continue to challenge the proposals.

On Wednesday 6 September, Munira led a debate in Parliament to raise residents’ concerns with Minister Rebecca Pow.  In the debate, Munira highlighted the strength of local feeling against the scheme, including concerns over the environmental and human health impacts.

More information:

  • Watch highlights here
  • Watch the full debate here
  • Read the press release here
  • Follow-up letter to Minister Rebecca Pow here and response here

Media:

A question of trust

Whilst there is undoubtedly a need to future-proof our water supply, there is a fundamental issue around trust. People just don’t trust the water companies, and for good reason. Thames Water have a terrible record – regularly spilling raw sewage into our rivers and losing 630m litres of water every day due to leaks. Meanwhile, in the last two years, their top execs were paid £6.1m, including £2.9m in bonuses.

During PMQs on Wednesday 3 May 2023, Munira challenged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on river pollution in the River Thames.

Munira told the story of a wild swimmer who became dangerously ill after swimming in the River Thames – a story that was also covered by ITV London.

Holding Thames Water and the Government to account

Munira has continued to press Thames Water, and the Government, on plans to tackle water shortages by pumping treated sewage into the river above Teddington Lock.

2023

  • September: Thames Water held a second river stakeholder meeting at Munira’s request
  • July: co-sponsored Early Day Motion with Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney, calling on the Government to back alternative schemes (here).
  • July: Wrote to Environment Secretary Therese Coffey escalating request for meeting with Minister Rebecca Pow (here). After months of radio silence, the Minister finally sent a reply (here).
  • May: Escalated request for meeting with Minister about Thames Water sewage recycling plans (here).
  • April: Secured Thames Water Q&A for river stakeholders (here).
  • March: Wrote joint letter with MP Sarah Olney to Minister Rebecca Pow requesting a meeting.
  • March: Held online meeting with River Thames stakeholder groups to hear their concerns, including environmental, sport and resident groups.
  • January: Held an urgent meeting with Thames Water officials. Munira and Cllr Julia Neden-Watts raised local concerns, including the proposal’s impacts on biodiversity in the river, chemical contaminants, flood resilience, and fixing leaks.
  • January: Wrote joint letter, together with MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney, to the CEO of Thames Water, calling for better public engagement and accountability. Following this, Thames Water agreed to hold further public events.
  • January: In Parliament, Munira tabled a Written Parliamentary Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Munira asked the Secretary of State what assessment her department has made of the proposals, specifically on the impact on biodiversity and water quality. The response is that they are “reviewing” the proposals.

Supporting the Liberal Democrats’ campaign for cleaner water

The Liberal Democrats have been leading a national campaign on the water industry – with a special focus on the scandals around sewage and water quality. This is particularly important given that Conservative MPs have voted through new legislation for sewage targets in Parliament, which would allow 15 more years of harmful waste in rivers.

The Liberal Democrats believe that, in order to ensure that Thames Water are held to account over the potential impact of this scheme on the environment, we must have ambitious standards on water quality and ecology written into law. Munira has taken a number of actions in Parliament including:

2023

  • May: Challenged Prime Minister on sewage at PMQs (here).
  • February: Slammed Thames Water’s failure to fix leaks in Parliament (here).
  • Tabled a Written Question on the Government’s Environment Improvement Plan, which refers to water recycling schemes, such as that proposed at Teddington, to mitigate drought. Munira is seeking clarity on the impact topping up rivers with effluent will have on phosphate levels and other factors, such as anti-microbials.
  • Voted for a successful Liberal Democrat amendment to the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill, tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord, that would stop taxpayer money going to water companies unless the discharges stop. 

In the media

2023

  • May: Spoke to ITV London about a wild swimmer who became sick after swimming in the River Thames (video and article).
  • March: Interview with Riverside Radio
  • March: More than 10,000 oppose Thames Water plan to pump treated sewage into Thames – Evening Standard
  • February: Nearly 10,000 oppose plan to pump treated sewage into Thames – The Guardian
  • February: Thames Water proposes to swap water with sewage above Teddington Lock – Richmond and Twickenham Times
  • February: Thames Water on replacing water with sewage in Teddington: consultation – UK Daily News
  • January: Plan to drain water from Thames and replace with treated effluent ‘stinks’ say MPs – Nub News
  • January: Interviewed about “recycled water” proposals on Radio Jackie
Munira speaking to a Thames Water official at the York House consultation

Munira speaking at Thames Water Q&A with local river stakeholder groups in April 2023

Second Thames Water Q&A held at Munira’s request in September 2023

Munira responds to Thames Water’s consultations

Munira has submitted formal responses to Thames Water’s public consultations.

In December 2023, Munira submitted her response to the public consultation on construction options. Read Munira’s response in full here.

In March 2023, Munira responded to Thames Water’s consultation on its Water Resources Management Plan, highlighting Thames Water’s poor track record on public engagement and transparency. Read the letter in full here.

Make your views heard

Following Munira’s interventions, Thames Water agreed to increase the number of consultation events. Whilst there is no current public consultation, residents can still contact Thames Water and Defra via the info below.

Contact Thames Water:
Email: consultation@thames-wrmp.co.uk
Post: Freepost, Thames Water WRMP Consultation

Contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA):
Email: water.resources@defra.gov.uk
Post: Defra Water Resources Management Plan Water Services, Seacole 3rd Floor, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1 P 4DF