Mixed Results on Water Quality for Bathing Water Project

The weekly river sampling being carried out by citizen science volunteers and organised by Thames 21 with the aim of establishing a Bathing Water Designation Status at Mill Meadows is at its halfway point (10 out 20 weeks).

Testing is being carried out for two FIO bacteria Escherichia coli (EC) and Intestinal Enterococci (IE) which when contaminated water is ingested or allowed to enter the bloodstream through open uncovered wounds, it can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses, infections, headaches, fever and in severe cases kidney and organ failure.

Weekly sampling is being carried out at six selected sample locations between Henley-on-Thames and Reading during the bathing water season (15 May – 30 September 2023). A total of 20 samples will be taken at each location and analysed by Thames Water.

So far the results have been mixed with the 3 Henley sample sites starting off well with 5 weeks of ‘good’ samples for both EC and IE (only 1 ‘poor’ EC for Mill Meadows in second week (24 May).  However, in the last four week’s tests, Henley Bridge has 2 ‘poor’,  Mill Meadows 4 ‘poor’ and Marsh Lock Bridge 3 ‘poor’ results all for EC.

Outside of Henley the worst site is Loddon Bridge which has only had 7 ‘good’ results for both EC and IE out of 20 tests.

A Designated Bathing Water for the bathing site a Mill Meadows would mean bacteria harmful to human health would be monitored weekly in the ‘bathing season’ (between May 15th and September 30th), and information on the water quality displayed publicly allowing river users to make informed choices. The centre of this stretch and the sampling site will be at the popular bathing site at Mill Meadows.

Henley Town Council are proposing to install a set of steps to give access into the river next to the River & Rowing Museum pontoon.

Thames 21 are working with the River Action UK on the campaign to stop pollution in the Thames at Henley.  An update on the campaign will be given at a meeting on 7 August at The Lockdown Lodge between 7-9pm.  More details can be found here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/henley-marlow-river-action-event

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