Hands busts five Thames Water myths

MYTH 1 – The Super Sewer will stop 39 million tonnes of sewage entering the Thames each year. In fact, the tunnel will only stop 18 million tonnes of discharge – the remaining 21 million tonnes are being stopped by work that has already begun. Thames Water also admit that more than 95% of the discharge from CSOs is actually rainwater.

MYTH 2 – Without the Super Sewer, there will be another “big stink”. Annual discharge into the river will be halved without the tunnel. The Thames is already cleaner than it has been for 150 years. Even with population growth, which is offset by water efficiency, it will be much cleaner in future without spending over £4 billion.

MYTH 3 – There are no serious alternatives to the Super Sewer. Five London councils sponsored the Selborne Commission to produce an independent report. It concluded that a “shorter tunnel, combined with green infrastructure solutions that are built up incrementally in the medium to long term, would be both compliant with EU directives and less costly and disruptive to Londoners”.

MYTH 4 – This is necessary to stop EU fines. Besides the conclusion of the Selborne Commission, the Environment Agency admits it has had no discussions with the European Commission about whether current action is sufficient to meet the directives.

MYTH 5 – Your water bill will only rise towards the average. The projected costs have already climbed to an extra £70-80 per customer per year, permanently. Even this projection was issued with a warning that “relatively small changes in the cost of capital for the project could have a significant impact on bills”. And taxpayers may also be liable for project risk, if there are any tunnelling problems.