The march, organised by local campaign group Up Sewage Creek, went from Coton Hill to the English Bridge, following a route along the river from Benbow Quay and marking the town’s 28 Combined Sewage Overflows, where raw sewage is discharged into the river by Severn Trent Water.
Dressed in a variety of costumes from wetsuits and flippers to poo emojis, the protestors wanted to draw attention to the water quality of a river increasingly used by swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders.
Claire Kirby, a spokesperson for the group, said: “As Shrewsbury residents, we’re fed up of seeing our beautiful river, and the footpaths around it, ruined by human excrement and sanitary waste.
"The Severn is the jewel in Shrewsbury’s crown and loads of people, including children, swim, canoe and paddleboard on it. So why are we letting Severn Trent Water treat it like a toilet? Since privatisation in 1991, water company shareholders have made £57 billion in dividends, while failing to fix our Victorian sewer system. We have had enough."
The protest comes in the wake of a nationwide uproar over the dumping of sewage in the UK’s waterways. Earlier this week the Environment Agency and water regulator Ofwat announced an investigation into the “widespread unpermitted” release of sewage by water and wastewater companies.
In Shrewsbury, protesters say they are frustrated that local MP Daniel Kawczynski hasn’t done more to protect the Severn during the recent Commons debates on the Environment Bill.
"The Government was forced into an embarrassing u-turn over a backbench amendment to the bill a few weeks ago, but the new guidelines don’t go far enough," Claire said.
"The new Environment Bill lets water companies keep on dumping dump raw sewage as long as they say they’re reducing it each year. There are no firm targets. They could reduce the amount of sewage by 0.00001 per cent and it would be enough to satisfy the law. It’s madness. "
"We’ve invited Daniel to come for a swim in the river with us so he can see the floaters close up."