Protesters demonstrate against sewage in rivers

Campaigners with messages on card that say things like "sick of your poo" and they are stood on a bridge over the river itchen for the protest
Campaigners gathered near the River Itchen in Southampton to protest against sewage in the water [BBC]

River users have gathered to demonstrate against sewage polluting their local waterway.

Protesters, including members of campaign groups Friends of River Itchen and Surfers Against Sewage, met at Portswood in Southampton on Wednesday.

They say the River Itchen contains high levels of sewage pollution that could cause a significant public health risk.

Southern Water said Portswood Wastewater Treatment Works was operating as it should, but it was working to address concerns about "odour affecting the local area".

People in kayaks paddling on the river itchen
Gavin Millar said he has heard "increasing reports" of local water users getting sick [BBC]

Gavin Millar, chairman of Friends of the Itchen Estuary, said he was worried after his team tested the water in that section of the river and found "extremely high levels of E. coli".

He said they were "too high for the laboratory to measure".

"The issue is very poorly treated sewage effluent which comes out into the river 24/7," he said.

"The volume daily is equivalent to six Olympic swimming pools worth."

Mr Millar said he had heard "increasing reports" of local rowers, paddleboarders and swimmers getting sick.

"I'd like to see proper investment in Portswood sewage works," Mr Millar said.

"It's high time that proper investment was made to clean up this river."

Gavin Millar, chairman of friends of the Itchen estuary stood in front of the river itchen
Gavin Millar said tests of the water found "extremely high levels of E. coli" [BBC]

Giles Bristow was at the protest for Surfers Against Sewage, who are touring the country on a bus to raise awareness of water pollution.

He said: “People are angry at the state of our rivers and our seas and the fact that they've been paying their water bills and they are not getting what they should be, which is cleaner better waters and environmental improvement."

Giles Bristow was at the protest for Surfers Against Sewage stood with a surfboard and in front of a blue coloured bus with facts and figures on the side
Giles Bristow was at the protest for Surfers Against Sewage [BBC]

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “We can confirm that Portswood Wastewater Treatment Works is operating as it should, in accordance with the Environment Agency's permit, and there have been no storm overflows here recently.

"We are however aware of a separate challenge at the site relating to concerns over odour affecting the local area. This is due to challenges around the sludge entering the site.

"We have committed to making £1m of improvements this summer to change the way the site operates through installing another level of treatment, which should help.

"We are very sorry for the impact this is having on customers nearby - we are working hard to tackle it as quickly as possible."

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