The Rivers Teme near Ludlow and Leam near Leamington will receive £78 million to deal with sewage pollution and make them safer for wild swimmers under a plan announced recently. The regulator OFWAT has published a draft plan under which five water companies including Thames Water can spend £850 million on new environmental projects and bring forward £1.9 million of planned spending. This would include £157 million to reduce harm from certain storm overflows including some on the Teme, Leam and the Warwickshire Avon.
At present the only river given official status for bathing is a stretch of the Wharfe in Yorkshire. That does not indicate the water quality and only means that regular tests of bacteria levels are carried out during the bathing season. Last year the water companies discharged sewage into rivers and coastal waters 403,000 times.
An editorial in The Times newspaper welcomed the announcement but commented:
“Yet none of this goes far enough. The lack of capacity in sewage infrastructure has been well-known since the 1990s. Progress has been thwarted by a regulator more concerned with keeping water bills down and an Environment Agency that consistently fails to enforce its own rules. The sums now being allocated are not remotely adequate to address the backlog of investment. What is needed is not more plans but action.”