Michael was very concerned by Chobham Sewage Works’ reported discharges into the River Bourne, and he wrote to both the Environment Secretary and to the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency on 7 October 2022 to ask for their assistance.
On 13 October 2022, Michael met representatives of Thames Water to discuss the discharges from Chobham Sewage Works and Michael was reassured to hear that the matter is being taken seriously. He understands that work is due to take place in Chobham to resolve the situation, which should be completed early next year. Thames Water has promised to write to him with further details.
On 18 October 2022, Michael received the following email from Julia Simpson, the Environment Agency’s Director for the Thames Area:
‘Thank you for your email of 7 October 2022 to our Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, regarding your concerns about Chobham Sewage Treatment Works. James has read your email and asked me to respond on his behalf. He will receive a copy of this response.
I can confirm that we are aware of the situation regarding storm sewage discharges at Chobham Sewage Treatment Works. In recent years, we have required water companies to install Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) to assess the frequency and duration of storm sewage discharges from their assets. The water companies are required to submit this data to us on an annual basis. This has increased the transparency of water company’s operations and environmental performance.
In 2020, EDM data for Chobham Sewage Treatment works confirmed a relatively high number of storm sewage spills, which required Thames Water to undertake an investigation under the Storm Overflow Assessment Framework to understand the reason for the high frequency of spills and plan improvements. Thames Water have completed an investigation and currently have plans in place for improvements at the site to reduce the number of storm sewage spills to an acceptable level. I note that you have already contacted Thames Water who are best placed to provide you with the latest progress on implementing their improvement plans.
In relation to the particular storm sewage incident you have referred to, this was reported by Thames Water on 28 August 2022. The information obtained shows that there was only a minor impact on the receiving watercourse.
Going forwards, we will continue to assess the frequency and duration of storm sewage spills at Chobham Sewage Treatment Works to confirm that the improvement schemes that Thames Water are implementing are effective. We also continue to progress our major national investigation into potential widespread non-compliance with flow conditions at sewage treatment works.
You will be aware that the Government has recently published the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan which sets strong new targets to protect people and the environment. We welcome the plan, water companies need to invest responsibly and go further and faster in tackling environmental damage caused by storm overflows. We will continue to work with government, the water industry, other regulators and NGO’s to deliver the plan and ensure that we have healthier and cleaner rivers.
Finally, I would be grateful if you would ask your constituents to report any future incidents they witness as soon as possible to our 24 hour free incident hotline number - 0800 807060.
I trust that the above information provides a useful response on the issues and concerns that you have raised.’
Michael is still awaiting a response from the Environment Secretary and a copy of his reply will be posted here in due course.