Canal water drinker’s anger at poison peril

The scene along the Grand Union canal where the sewage spill has taken place.
The scene along the Grand Union canal where the sewage spill has taken place.

A man who draws his water supply from the canal believes a raw sewage leak is posing a danger to his health.

The man, who wishes to remain unnamed, lives off the beaten track at Tringford, near Marsworth, and has had an ultraviolet filtration system set up to purify water from Lock 38 of the Grand Union for more than 26 years. He does not have a mains water supply and enjoys the eco-friendly aspect of the unusual lifestyle.

However, he says the pollution could have been poisoning him since the spill at the Grand Union in February.

The contamination occurred because of a build-up of wet wipes at the Thames Water sewage works near Tringford, which blocked pipes and caused sewage to back up into the canal.

Craig Rance of Thames Water said: “This a stark reminder of why we ask people not to flush anything other than human waste or loo roll down the toilet. Although the impact on the environment is minimal, this is deeply regrettable and we have since done a full clean-up.”

Although the man says he is licensed to extract the water for personal use, Thames Water advises strongly against consuming water from the canal.

The company also says it is continuing to run check-ups of the area, but the resident said: “It is still covered in excrement. This area is supposed to be about leisure, it is a place of natural beauty and yet they are discharging sewage into it.

“I have been having stomach problems for weeks now, and I am now going to have to upgrade my water filter system at my own cost, because no-one seems to remember there are people like me still using them.”

Senior environmental scientist for the Canal and River Trust Sally Grainger said: “We are working with Thames Water and the Environment Agency to try and prevent this happening again and will be closely monitoring the situation.”