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Sewer levels in Thames lead to disgrace

Posted April. 01, 2024 07:44,   

Updated April. 01, 2024 07:44


The Thames, known as the ‘lifeline of England’ running through south-central England, including London, was recently found to contain high amounts of excrement, causing disgrace. Participants in the Oxbridge rowing competition, which boasts a 195-year tradition, were banned from entering the water, being warned of the dangers of “splashed water.”

“Samples collected near the rowing competition area showed that the amount of E. coli reached an average of 2,863 CFU and a maximum of 9,801 CFU, which is close to 10 times the allowable limit,” the environmental group River Action announced on Friday.

According to the BBC, the odor of the Thames is reaching unbearable levels. “I vomited before the race started. It would be a lot nicer if there weren't as much poo in the water,” said Leonard Jenkins of Oxford University, who lost in the rowing competition, at the press conference. Oxbridge's tradition has the winning team celebrate by jumping into the river, which was banned this year. Boat race crews were advised to avoid water splashing up from the Thames.

The Thames sewage crisis occurred when water companies discharged large amounts of sewage that had not been appropriately treated for a long period of time. According to the U.K. Environment Agency, untreated sewage was discharged across the country for 3.7 million hours last year, the highest figure since monitoring started in 2015. Such figures are more than double compared to 2022 (1.75 million hours).

The U.K. has combined sewage systems, which means rain and sewage share the same pipes. Sewage is spilled into waterways to prevent the system from backing up. Sewage spills can be legal, but environmentalists say it should only happen in exceptional weather. The British government also called for quick action, calling the situation “unacceptable.”

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com