Angry residents are calling for a ban on water companies dumping raw sewage into water courses amid fears it could harm wildlife.

From the Chesham and Amersham constituency, 640 people have signed a petition calling for the ban.

It comes after the River Chess Association said on its Facebook page it had received a text from Thames Water that the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works discharged untreated sewage on April 23.

It added: “This is the fourth discharge in April – a month that has been exceptionally dry, so no storm excuse and therefore un-permitted.

“Already in 2021, we have had 75 discharges. This compares with 66 discharges through the whole of 2020.

“Neither of these figures are acceptable, sewage discharges should only occur in exceptional circumstances, in our view once or twice a decade.”

The government recently announced that measures to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows in a bid to cut down on sewage pouring into rivers would be put into law.

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During wet weather, storm overflows act to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with sewage and rain, and release diluted wastewater into rivers.

A spokesman for Thames Water said discharges of untreated sewage are “simply unacceptable, even when they are legally permitted”.

They added: “We’ll work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary.

“We have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.

“Our aim will always be to try and do the right thing for our rivers and for the communities who love and value them.

“We’re proud of our important role as one of the custodians of these incredible environments and are committed to working tirelessly to protect and enhance them.”

Thames Water said its permit requires it to treat 240.9 litres per second at Chesham sewage treatment works before making untreated discharges, adding: “We have consistently delivered well above this throughout the period.

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“An unusually wet winter this year meant the water table remains higher than usual and we’ve experienced infiltration of groundwater into our sewer network. This is why discharges have continued to occur despite the weather appearing to be drier.

“We are now working to increase the treatment capacity at the works as quickly as possible, with a major expansion to be delivered by the end of 2023, and accelerating work to reduce infiltration, by dealing with source of the problem and relining sewers in the region.”

In 2017, Thames Water was slapped with a record £20.3 million fine for discharging over a billion litres of sewage directly into the River Thames in 2013 and 2014.

Hundreds of fish and birds died over the two-year period when “out of control” sewage treatment centres owned by Thames Water sent untreated water into rivers in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

The Environment Agency said it was “caused by negligence” and led to the “death of wildlife and distress to the public”.

See the petition at