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  • by Karma Loveday

Evenlode Catchment Partnership cuts ties with Thames citing a “betrayal of trust”

The Evenlode Catchment Partnership (ECP) has announced it will terminate relations with Thames Water, citing disappointment with the company’s PR24 business plan.

Specifically, the partnership said the plan does not commit to sewage works upgrades it has identified as necessary and discussed with Thames, to reduce phosphorus pollution across the Evenlode catchment.

The ECP – a collaboration which seeks to improve the water quality and ecological health of the Evenlode River and its tributaries – has worked with Thames under its ‘Smart Water Catchments’ initiative.

ECP project manager, Ann Berkeley, said "The partnership has worked hard to provide concrete evidence proving the need for immediate upgrades to Thames Water’s 19 sewage treatment works in the catchment, including the urgent requirement for phosphorus stripping. Extensive monitoring by ECP citizen scientists, and analysis of data by scientists at Earthwatch, has confirmed the damaging impact of phosphorus on the Evenlode and its tributaries.”

The partnership said a draft version of Thames’ plan as recently as summer 2023 included upgrades to 13 works, but these were stripped out of the final version. Moreover it pointed to 105 previously funded improvement schemes across the Thames network, including those for Moreton-in-Marsh and Milton-under-Wychwood sewage treatment works, which have been postponed until AMP8.

Berkeley continued: “Thames Water has repeatedly assured us that the required improvements will be made, but these are not present in the business plan. This is a betrayal of our trust and we no longer have faith in Thames Water’s assurances. In light of this, ECP has made the difficult decision to end our relationship with Thames Water at the conclusion of our project in 2025, symbolising our collective dismay at Thames Water's lack of meaningful commitment to repairing the damage already done to our rivers.”

ECP pointed out: “None of the criticism expressed by ECP is directed to Thames Water staff responsible for delivering the Smarter Water Catchment project locally. ECP recognises their professionalism and dedication, acknowledging the challenges they face working for the company.”


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