Selective discharge mapping and effluent recycling – Thames now following Southern’s lead

The map below overlays Thames Water’s newly published ‘real-time’ map of their sewage discharges with the similar Southern Water ‘Beachbuoy’ map of discharges affecting the bathing beaches in their area.

Taken together, the picture is as miserable as we might expect, though in reality, the level of detail is lamentably sparse.

With Southern Water’s ‘Beachbuoy’, the display is probably at the minimum level of granularity that the company can get away with. The subject of Beachbuoy scope is covered in this post on the Solent Protection Society (SPS) website in November, 2022. Previous posts from SPS have discussed the relationship between the 300+ CSOs (Combined Sewer Overflows) visible in the Environment Agency data and the relatively small number shown in Beachbuoy. The coverage by Thames Water shown in their new discharge map is almost certainly just as selective.

If Southern followed Thames’ example by also displaying their river discharges, and if Defra and the Environment Agency insisted on full disclosure from both companies, those pictures would be as bleak as the situation actually is.

The maps can be viewed at the links below.

Southern Water – Beachbuoy

Thames Water – Event Duration Map

In other news, thanks to the Guardian, we now know that Thames Water has proposed to draw off tens of millions of litres of water a day from the Thames and replace it with treated effluent from the large Mogden sewage works in west London to help tackle water shortages.

Excess sewage effluent is not a resource to be expensively repackaged and sold to customers, it’s just clear evidence that the water companies are failing to meet their primary objective.