Call for action over water pollution in Edmonton

Incident in Pymmes Park sparks fresh concerns over condition of local watercourses, writes Fran Di Fazio

Water pollution in Pymmes Park
The detached ‘boom’ which caused pollution to enter the lake in Pymmes Park last week (credit Friends of Pymmes Park)

A water pollution incident in Pymmes Park has sparked renewed calls for action to fix long-running problems.

The Friends of Pymmes Park voluntary group raised the alarm after a faulty boom across the lake in the Edmonton park – fitted by Thames Water – floated away. It allowed rubbish and “gunk” to flow into the lake unimpeded for several days.

The booms have been since put back in place but the incident has led to renewed calls for action against pollution in local watercourses.

Water pollution is a recurring problem along the whole course of Pymmes Brook, which flows through the borough from Arnos Grove in the west to Edmonton in the east, often through dense urban areas. Because of foul water contaminating surface water pipes and misconnected domestic drains, the Pymmes is often polluted.

Pymmes Brookers, a group of volunteers taking action to improve Pymmes Brook, wants to see more co-ordinated efforts to solve long-running pollution problems. Co-chair Alison Archer told the Dispatch: “Very often property owners aren’t aware that they [their drains] are misconnected, but they’re effectively draining their sewage water into rivers.

“This has a massive impact on the rivers’ health and biodiversity, and it is also a public health problem.

“We do report all misconnections to Thames Water, and we’re very disappointed by the response we see. Their responses to our reports of sewage entering the river are very slow and very late.”

In response to the claims, a Thames Water spokesperson said: “Over the last eight years, we have carried out more than a dozen investigations along the Pymmes Brook following reports of a pollution. Our team works with the Environment Agency and council officers to trace the source of these pollutions before working with property owners to rectify the problem.

“We have helped to resolve issues at over 400 properties during this time which has significantly reduced pollution in the brook.”

The 2021 Environment Act introduced targets to reduce water pollution. With regards to sewage pollution, the ‘storm overflows discharge reduction plan’ aims to tackle the reliance on storm overflows, a safety mechanism that water companies use to discharge sewage and rainwater into water bodies in extreme weather. Under the plan’s provisions, water companies have been set a target to eliminate the use of storm overflows – except for “unusually heavy rainfall” – by 2050.

Campaigners, however, maintain that these targets are not enough. Alison said: “The targets are too low, and the timescale is too long. We want much more improvement from water companies, and much sooner.”

Regarding last week’s incident in Pymmes Park, the Thames Water spokesperson said: “The booms have been put in place as a temporary measure and are checked to ensure they remain in place. We continue to work with local stakeholders and the borough council to support businesses and ensure that any misconnections which cause pollution are resolved as swiftly as possible.”

Regarding Thames Water’s general approach to tackling local pollution, they added: “Our shareholders have recently approved a business plan that sees us spending an additional £2billion beyond what our customers are funding so we can improve outcomes for customers, leakage and river health. This will allow us to deliver our commitment to a 50% reduction in the total annual duration of spills across London and the Thames Valley by 2030.”

Meanwhile, residents are being encouraged to take action to help protect Enfield rivers. Property owners are advised to check their plumbing and rectify any misconnections as soon as possible.

Alison said: “We want to call for action and bring people on board with us, so that we can speak with a united voice.”

To report a water pollution incident via the Environment Agency hotline:
0800 80 70 60

For more information about Pymmes Brookers and to get in touch:
[email protected]

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