Concerns for wildlife haven River Chess continue, after raw sewage dumping shows no sign of stopping.

New figures from the Environment Agency released on March 31 show Thames Water’s Chesham Sewage Treatment Works among top 5 percent of sewage offenders in the country.

Raw sewage was dumped into the 11-mile-long river on 116 separate occasions during 2021 and for more than 1,814 hours in total.

This is an increase of 851 hours from 2020, when sewage was dumped for 963 hours.

River Chess is a chalk stream, which originates in Chesham, and flows through Buckinghamshire countryside, Hertfordshire and joins River Colne in Rickmansworth.

READ MORE: Anger at Thames Water's Chesham Sewage Treatment Works dumping raw sewage into river

The rare nature beauty spot is a home to wildlife such as voles, brown trout and stream water crowfoot.

Chesham and Amersham MP Sarah Green urged the government to take action against companies responsible for river pollution.

She said: “It is a disgrace that water companies are continuing to pollute our rivers, threatening the precious habitats and wildlife found within them.

Bucks Free Press: River Chess near the waterworks (Credit: Chiltern PhotoGroup/M Parry).River Chess near the waterworks (Credit: Chiltern PhotoGroup/M Parry).

“We should be looking at ways to minimise damage to our rivers – particularly globally rare Chalk Streams like the River Chess. 

“I am disgusted to discover that here in Chesham sewage was pumped into the Chess for almost twice as long in 2021 as the previous year. It appears things are only getting worse. 

“The Government must take tougher action against offending water companies including by introducing a sewage tax.”

Criticism of the water company comes a year after hundreds of residents in Chesham and Amersham signed a petition calling for a total ban on raw sewage dumping into waterways like River Chess.

Thames Water spokesperson responded to Sarah Green MP: “Our aim will always be to try and do the right thing for our rivers and for the communities who love and value them.

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“We regard all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable and will work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary and are determined to be transparent.

“We recently launched our river health commitments which includes a 50% reduction in the total annual duration of spills across London and the Thames Valley by 2030, and within that an 80% reduction in sensitive catchments. 

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

The type of dumping by Thames Water into River Chess is done as storm discharge to prevent the sewer system becoming overwhelmed with sewage and rain during wet weather.

Attempts to improve and manage the condition of River Chess are on-going, including ‘ChesWatch’, a partnership between River Chess Association, Thames Water, Chilterns Chalk Streams Project and Queen Mary University of London. 

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