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Motion at Full Council on Tuesday 11th September 2018:

"This Council is concerned about the widely reported over use of combined sewer overflows which should only discharge untreated sewage into our rivers in exceptional conditions. It appears that this has not been the case and these sewage overflows are used much more frequently.

The Council is aware the Windrush and all but one of Oxfordshire's rivers are receiving treated effluent which is greatly inferior to that which is required for rivers in Sites of Specific Scientific Interest, for example:

The River WIndrush and about 80% of British rivers are failing to achieve the good health standard required by the European Water Framework directive. There is a real risk that such rivers run the risk of turning from assists to liabilities for our communities and businesses. The potential designation of the Cotswolds as a National Park makes this even more pertinent for Oxfordshire.

Council calls for the Leader to write to the Minister for the Environment, the Chief Executive Officer of Thames Water and the Head of the Environment Agency, supporting the long and short term aims to fight Against Sewage Pollution in our rivers. The focus of this motion is on the Windrush but its success will impact positively on all of Oxfordshire's river and streams affected by sewage pollution."

Proposed by: Cllr Nick Field Johnson 

Seconded by: Cllr Liz Leffman

Cllr Liam Walker's response: 

"Madam Chairman, The issue around dumping of sewage remains a key concern to residents in my Division and as we have heard from colleagues, in neighbouring Divisions too. 

I want to praise the Windrush Against Sewage Pollution group who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness around this issue. I had the pleasure of meeting the group at the Wychwood Forest Fair a few weeks ago and heard about the work they are doing - they even got great coverage on BBC Countryfile some months ago.

I remember well growing up in Minster Lovell and being able to head down to the river - over a decade later the river has changed so much that you won't catch me paddling in it anymore!

Photos have recently emerged of raw sewage polluting our river. Thames Water have a history of being fined for serious sewage pollution. It's crazy that Thames Water are being allowed by the Environment Agency to pump untreated sewage into the River Windrush in "heavy rainfall" periods.

Poor connections in our sewage network means that rainwater wrongly enters the system. When the system cannot cope with the volume - they store the excess sewage in a tank and when that fills up - they send it into our rivers!

A recent World Wildlife Fund investigation found that overflows are commonly used to dump sewage that can't be treated as a way to save money.

This is sadly happening all over England and Wales. This is a cost cutting exercise at the expense of our environment. As this continues to go on the water industry has made huge profits with only some attempts to fix the faults in their systems. 

With the increase in housing and therefore the increase in population in Oxfordshire - this is only going to get worse if we don't act now! 

On Thursday 4th October WODC (West Oxfordshire District Council) will be hosting a 'Water Day' at the Council in order to spend more time focussing on the relevant issues including:

- the Environment Agencies response to pollution in the river

- flooding issues 

- Thames Water network issues and in particular the planning for the new development 

It's our job as Councillors to hold organisations like Thames Water to account.

It's our job as Councillors to ensure we protect and preserve our rivers all across Oxfordshire.

I urge colleagues to support this motion."

Cllr Liam Walker 

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