Shropshire Star

Traces of faeces found in Shrewsbury flood water 'not significant risk' - unless you drink it

Citizen scientists have confirmed the presence of bacteria, ammonia and 'faecal indicator organisms' in recent Shrewsbury flood water.


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Researchers have concluded that the one sample taken on the recreation ground near the Weir after flooding in early January contained 'elevated concentrations of ammonia and bacteria, including faecal indicator organisms'.

Campaigners say that the water was found to have elements 'potentially harmful to human health' such as E.coli and faecal matter, according to lab analysis from Oakshire Environmental commissioned by Round Our Way.

In other parts of the country the group found samples that they say pose a "a significant risk to human health".

In early January in Shrewsbury the testers concluded that the water is 'not likely to pose a significant risk to human health' assuming that people don't drink it.

Roger Harding, Director of Round Our Way, a not-for-profit supporting people impacted by climate change in the UK, said: “All of us want to feel safe at home and know kids are fine if they go out to play, but these results show the disgusting filth and germs people have been exposed to in recent floods."

Round Our Way is calling on politicians to act as the effects of climate change lead to increased flooding.

"The weather climate change brings sadly means the UK is flooding more and more, which is leaving people exposed not just to property damage but also getting really ill," said Mr Harding.

“It shouldn’t need saying, but people should not have to put up with **** flowing into their streets and parks.

"We urgently need to see politicians better-protecting people from floods and the climate change that is making them more likely.”

The flood water sample was collected from this park in Shrewsbury

The water contamination test was carried out by Oakshire Environmental on behalf of the group at the All Saints Recreation Ground, off Queen Street, on January 5.

They concluded: "Based on the results of laboratory testing, sampled water is considered to contain elevated concentrations of ammonia and bacteria, including faecal indicator organism concentrations, however, sampled water is not likely to pose a significant risk to human health, assuming that the affected water is not a source of drinking water."

The group found that their tests suggested "sampled water contains high concentrations of bacteria" and that ammonia concentration exceed the Long Term Standard for freshwater.

A clostridia concentration was identified, suggesting this faecal indicator organism is present in sampled water.

But when they tested for E.coli and Enterococci they found that these were "below the laboratory limit of detection, suggesting these faecal indicator organisms are not present in sampled water."

Salmonella concentration was below the laboratory limit of detection and the total coliform concentration was below the laboratory limit of detection.

The water was found to be slightly acidic and detergent concentration was below the laboratory limit of detection.

Round Your Way points to figures showing that a warming climate means more rain and flooding.

The Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water were asked for comment but both organisations declined to officially respond.

A river may be ecologically healthy and able to protect wildlife, but not meet the strict bacterial standards of the bathing water regulations. Current regulations for rivers in England protect wildlife and are not designed for the protection of human health.

Also flood water is not a designated bathing water and therefore is not tested under those regulations and it can contain other substances including dog mess.

Controversially also water companies are legally allowed to use storm overflows in a flooding event to avoid sewage flooding people’s homes and therefore they expect some flood water to have ecoli present.