Extinction Rebellion (XR) highlighted the scandal of sewage discharges into the Wey and elsewhere at Guildford Lions Big River Race.
Guildford’s Big River Race is a charity Duck and Raft Race run by Guildford Lions, which combines duck racing, raft building, paddle boarding and kayaking to raise funds for local charities and deserving causes.
During the race, activists from Waverley & Borders Extinction Rebellion and its Rebel Rhythms band made their presence known along the bank of the River Wey. They sat on toilets reading mocked-up newspapers to highlight the continued and unacceptable discharge of raw sewage into our rivers and waterways by Thames Water.
They were joined by activists from around the local area who gave out leaflets and information. This included letters for supporters to send to their MP demanding action against the profiteering water companies and calling for our rivers to be restored to health. Activists also attached warning signs along the river, drawing attention to the polluted water. There was scientific testing of the current health of the river on the day.
UK rivers receive an average of 825 raw sewage discharges per day. This puts all those who use the water for recreation at risk of eye, ear, skin, and throat infections, gastro-enteritis, E.coli, hepatitis and more.
XR lays bare the truth about the scandalous state of our rivers and calls on Thames Water to ‘Cut The Crap’. They invited the public to pressure the water companies via their MPs to reduce pollution and pay for the clean-up rather than making their customers pay.
Organic farm worker, Danielle McHallam, aged 34, said:
“I am here today to highlight Thames Water’s complete lack of care and continued monetisation of the natural world. We are the only country on Earth with a fully privatised water sector. Privatisation has meant that the priority of water companies is profit, meaning they have been protecting their shareholders’ interests instead of the ecosystems that rely on healthy rivers, and all of this is at the expense of billpayers; you and I.”
Jenny Condit, a retired banker aged 73 from Haslemere, said:
“For over 30 years, Thames Water has paid the interest due its creditors and dividends to shareholders and its holding company whilst defiling the rivers in our region. Now its creditors are worried about getting paid; the company is front page news.
These companies have abused our waterways and rivers for too long. It’s time they are brought back into public ownership where all money made can be invested in upgrading infrastructure and repairing the damage done to our beautiful waterways.”
For more information contact: Nicola Parkinson 07967 017516
The River Wey started life as a chalk stream (one of only 300 globally, 220 of which are in the UK). Raw sewage is discharged across the UK an average of 825 times daily and contains bacteria, antibiotics, pathogens, viruses, and other unmentionables.
England’s privatised water companies have paid out dividends to shareholders of £2 billion a year on average since being given the utility debt-free more than 30 years ago. They now intend to pass the £10 billion bill for investment, which should have been carried out years ago, on to customers.