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Letter: Long, sad history of sewage pumped into our rivers

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SIR – The headline and article, 'Raw sewage pumped into Forest river', makes shocking and sad reading (A&T, 9th July).

Unfortunately, this is a continuation of a longstanding problem which should have been addressed many years ago.

In 1982 I moved into a property at Fordingbridge which seemed idyllic; an old cottage that had been extended and had Sweatsford Water, a tributary of the Avon, running through the garden.

Both brown and rainbow trout occupied the stretch. Mayfly appeared in quantity in the early summer whilst dragonfly and similar riverside inhabitants were plentiful.

When the winter floods came, a different scenario presented itself; quantities of raw sewage accompanied the rising waters.

Enquiries and complaints directed to the appropriate authorities resulted in a statement that this was to be expected, as there was “authorisation” for such discharge when flood conditions overcame the sewage disposal plants’ ability to deal with the problem.

I spent many hours clad in rubber gloves and waders extracting the more disgusting of debris, including quantities of sanitary towels and contraceptives. This problem was repeated most winters in heavy rain and was still evident when we sold the property in 2002.

By this time the brown trout had disappeared; rainbows (escapees from an upstream trout farm) were still evident though less in number. The mayfly hatch was much diminished as were the other previous inhabitants – with one exception. Brown rats appeared!

Southern Water’s court appearance and substantial fine is overdue. Your article is timely. But will anything change? I do hope so but am not confident unless sufficient public outrage is generated.

Keep up the good work!

Roy Harvey,

Main picture: Stock image

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