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.
Thames Water has announced a series of public information events specifically on the construction impacts. Residents are understandably outraged not only by the environmental impact of the proposals, but by the impact of construction in both residential and nature areas.
Make your voice heard and register for the events HERE.
Share your views in the public consultation HERE. The deadline for responding to the consultation is 11 December.
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.
- Watch highlights here
- Watch the full debate here
- Read the press release here
- Follow-up letter to Minister Rebecca Pow here and response here
- The Guardian: Thames Water pumped at least 72bn litres of sewage into Thames since 2020
- The Times: Public mistrust threatens plans to recycle water from sewage works
- Evening Standard: Water chiefs condemned over ‘scandal’ of sewage in Thames
- BBC Radio London: Munira discusses sewage scandals and the Teddington proposals (here)
- LBC News: Munira discusses Teddington scheme on LBC News
- SW Londoner: Twickenham and Richmond MPs against treated sewage water discharge plans
- Riverside Radio – 15 September (link here)
- Teddington Town: Coming together to save our river
- Nub News: Twickenham MP leads debate on Thames Water’s controversial water recycling plans at Teddington
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.
- 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:
- 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
- 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
Second Thames Water Q&A held at Munira’s request in September 2023
Munira responds to Thames Water’s consultation
Like many local residents and river groups, Munira responded to Thames Water’s consultation on its Water Resources Management Plan to voice local concerns.
In her letter, which you can read in full here,
- Thames Water’s poor track record on public engagement and transparency;
- Concerns that protecting the environment is not a priority for Thames Water;
- The need for robust and fulsome assessments of the environmental and human health impacts, as well as strict monitoring of the scheme, if approved;
- Calls for the company to focus on fixing leaks, rather than effluent reuse schemes
- Questions over how Thames Water; defines “best value” for its customers.
Make your views heard
Following Munira’s interventions, Thames Water agreed to hold two further consultation events, which took place on 27 February and 3 March (residents who missed the online Thames Water webinar can watch it here). The Q&A document is available here.
Whilst the public consultation has now closed, Munira will continue to raise concerns with Thames Water and the Government on behalf of residents. People can still contact Thames Water and Defra via the info below.
Contact Thames Water:
Post: Freepost, Thames Water WRMP Consultation
Contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA):
Post: Defra Water Resources Management Plan Water Services, Seacole 3rd Floor, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1 P 4DF