The heavy rain we’ve been experiencing has seen an outpouring of raw sewage into the River Thames.
Until the Tideway Tunnel is completed in 2023 / 24 there is little that Thames Water can do about it, they say. Victorian engineer Joseph Bazalgette’s sewer system is 200 years old this year. It was designed for a much smaller population and a city which had far more green spaces to absorb rainfall.
The combined network takes both the discharge from buildings – kitchens, bathrooms and toilets – and run-off from roadsides. Waste water ends up in the river when the volume is too great for the system to cope. When the sewer is full, the excess is discharged into the river through outfall points.
The weather forecast is for more heavy rain, with flood warnings in some parts of Britain because the ground is already saturated.
Thames Water told me they have extra people working on rainy days to ensure the sewers, pumping stations, overflow points etc are working as they should.
‘We monitor weather forecasts a number of days ahead so can get additional people on standby to be called in if the rain comes.
‘We also have monitors in many of our sewers which provide data on how full they are so we can predict where we many potentially have issues and can send people there to investigate’.
British Rowing, based at Hammersmith, don’t advise rowers to stay out of the water in these conditions; they say just take sensible precautions such as covering cuts or grazes with waterproof dressings and hosing down all equipment after outings on the river.
I’d think twice about letting my dog go in the river at the moment though.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Underwater pub