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  • Writer's pictureThe Bridge Burford

Water Supply and Pollution

The water supply into our homes and the disposal of sewage are both on the agenda at the moment.

Water Supplies

As reported in the December edition of The Bridge, problems have been experienced by Burford residents with their water pressure. This particularly affected homes at the top of The Hill where at times the pressure was so low that it appeared that the supply had been disconnected. John White, the mayor of Burford, took this up with Thames Water. The following is an extract from their reply:

Having reviewed the dates you've provided, I have established that our Burfield Booster Station has been the cause of the water pressure temporarily reducing in the area, for which we do of course apologise.

We have investigated the reasons for these failures and have identified a number of different issues, including electrical power outages and pump failures. In addition, on 5 August 2019 and 27 May 2020, the pumps stopped working as a result of an extremely high demand for water – we were simply unable to treat enough water quickly enough to meet the additional demand.

To prevent any repeat of the problems you have been experiencing, we are planning a package of improvements. Potential solutions include either upgrading or replacing the pumps, but we are also carrying out detailed modelling of the impact of population growth on our network to ensure that whatever we do can cope with projected future demand. We expect to be able to complete the improvements within the next 18 months.

In the meantime, to ensure our records are up to date, local residents should call our 24-hour Customer Contact Centre on 0800 316 9800, if they are experiencing a water pressure problem. By doing this, we can build up an accurate picture of events which can be considered when planning the future investment in our network. It also allows us to discuss any help residents may require and allow us to keep them directly updated on the situation.

While it is good to know that they have acknowledged that there is a problem, the references to “whatever we can do” and a possible 18 month period for improvements are not particularly encouraging. By the end of that period most, if not all, of the new homes being built on Shilton Road will be occupied and this will add to demand for water.


Meanwhile Phlip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, has introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons which would prevent the discharge of untreated sewage into rivers. It is due to be debated on 15 January. As frequently mentioned in The Bridge, this is a serious problem in the Windrush and in many other rivers. Private member’s bills do not often become law but they can help to focus attention on an issue and prompt government action. The bill is described as follows:

The Bill will place a duty on water companies to ensure untreated sewage is no longer discharged into England’s inland waters. It will require water companies to set out plans to progressively reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows (CSOs). It will also ensure an increased level of transparency, as firms will be mandated to publicly report on the number, condition, and quality of the sewage being discharged from CSOs and any other sewer catchment assets.

In addition, the proposed new law will require the Government to investigate further steps that can be taken by stakeholders, such as the Environment Agency, to improve water quality. This could include designating at least two inland bathing waters every year to drive forward standards and setting legally binding targets to increase the number of bathing waters classified as “good” or “excellent”.

More information about this can be found here:

If you want to contact your MP to make any representations on the bill, you can do so as follows:

Witney constituency (West Oxfordshire): Robert Courts MP

Cotswolds (Gloucestershire): Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP

Thames Water has again been named as the worst water company in the country by Ofwat, the regulator. Thames Water is the largest water company in the country. It was found to be in the bottom quartile in seven of the 11 performance criteria including customer service, leakage and supply interruptions.


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