Shropshire Star

River pollution campaigners in Shrewsbury withholding part of water bills

Environmental campaigners in Shrewsbury have said that they are considering holding back on paying their water rates because of ongoing concerns about overflowing sewage on a local footpath and pollution of the River Severn.

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Eco campaigner Claire Kirby from Shrewsbury is withholding paying part of her water bill over River Severn pollution concerns

The move comes at a time when sewage pollution protesters have been raising awareness of the problems both locally and nationally.

Claire Kirby, a 57-year-old campaigner with Up Sewage Creek, said: "We are holding back on paying about half of our water bill."

She added: "Raw sewage appears on a footpath known as the Pig Trough, in Coton Hill, in Shrewsbury.

"This has been going on for longer than 10 years and stems from the fact that there is a combined sewer with storm water and sewage in the same system.

"With more intense rainfall because of climate change and more people being plumbed into the system, this causes the combined system under the footpath to become overloaded and pushes up the manhole covers.

"This leads to the footpath being strewn with human excrement, sanitary products, wet wipes and toilet paper as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and I understand that someone reported this problem as far back as 2011.

"There are people living in nearby flats who have to walk along the footpath to town."

Mrs Kirby said: "The water bill for myself and my husband, Tim, is £450.60 a year and I cancelled the direct debit in August last year and have held back £214.06 for waste water, surface water and highway drainage and lodged a complaint with the Consumer Council for Water about the problems."

Jamie Russell, a 48-year-old author, from Shrewsbury, said that he was also "considering" holding back payment for his water rates in April.

He said: "I feel that Severn Trent Water is completely failing us as residents by continuing to put profit above public health in Shrewsbury.

"They are discharging raw sewage into the River Severn and destroying the ecology.

"I walk by the river, take my dog by the river and have gone there with my children, and people are actually becoming sick if they go wild swimming or kayak.

"We have combined sewage overflows in Shrewsbury and when there is heavy rainfall there is a problem and this is not properly monitored."

A Severn Trent spokesman said "We truly care about the health of rivers in Shrewsbury and have teams of people working hard every day to make improvements in the town.

"We are investing £11.5 million to upgrade six sewage treatment works, which includes a significant investment at Monkmoor.

"When completed in 2025, Severn Trent will no longer be responsible for this stretch of river not achieving the Environment Agency's good ecological status. Measures will be due to other sectors, such as agriculture."

He added: "We also have a Shrewsbury-based Severn Trent River Ranger who, along with our operational teams, proactively monitors the network and river health on a daily basis.

"Environment Agency information shows that 78 per cent of reasons for this section of the river not achieving good ecological status are due to other sectors, with 22 per cent within the control of Severn Trent.

"Severn Trent is moving faster than sector targets to improve the quality of the region's rivers, including those around Shrewsbury.

"We are consistently recognised for our industry leading performance and are committed to being open and transparent about our performance and our plans."