Thames Water CEO Doesn’t Turn Up for River Swim

River pollution campaigners invited CEO of Thames Water, Cathryn Ross to come and swim in the river on Friday and to meet and understand their concerns but sadly she didn’t take up the invitation.

Henley Mermaids, citizen scientists from the Henley & Marlow River Action group, river swimmers and users, members of Ocean Rebellion, Earth Watch and Greener Henley gathered at the Friday Street slipway with some taking a short dip in the river including members of the Friday Floaters!

Members from Ocean Rebellion gave a ‘sickening’ performance piece highlighting what the polluted river can cause to human health before they entered the river with gas masks on.  Gary Hamilton from Henley Symphony Orchestra played themed pieces including the Funeral March on his French Horn.

Citizen Scientist, David Wallace from the Henley & Marlow River Action group said, “A massive thank you for everyone turning up today.  I would like to thank River Action for their ongoing support and the fabulous crew from Earth Watch who are doing some water testing as we speak.  Earth Watch have provided test kits to us so that we can keep track of pollution in the river. A massive thank you to Ocean Rebellion for this incredible piece of performance art.  It’s a real shame that Cathryn Ross from Thames Water hasn’t turned up today.  She didn’t even have the politeness to send a RSVP.  Between the sewage and road works in Henley we must ask, Thames Water why do you hate Henley so much.  The river in Henley is poisoned, the water is now poisonous and harmful to our health and the plants and animals who call the river their home.  How do we know? because our children have been sick.  We test the water for harmful bacteria and high levels of pollutants.  This testing tells us that the river is in dire ecological health.  The sewage treatment works spew untreated and treated effluent every day.  This is 2023 not Victorian Britain, Thames Water clean up your act, stop poisoning our river, treat it with respect, invest in infrastructure to ensure that waste water is stripped from everything that is harmful to humans or nature.  We must restore nature now.  The Thames is Henley, without it we are nothing.

Henley Mermaid, Laura Reineke added, “Our waterways are of great importance, our rivers and streams play a critical role in the natural world and enriching the lives of all river users.  They not merely geographical features, they are life lines for nature, sanctuaries for our spirits and economic engines for our community.  They create eco-systems that support the staggering variety of wildlife. Protecting these habitats are not a just an environmental duty, it is morale obligation.  Whether it is a serene paddle down the river, a swim with friends, or peaceful walks along the banks, these experiences rejuvenate our spirits and nourish our souls.  Our waterways foster recreation, relaxation and adventure making our lives richer in the process.  Moreover, they contribute to our local economies.  Think of the towns and villages nestled amongst these waterways.  The businesses they support, the tourism they attract and the jobs they create are integral to the community, particularly our own here.  Our waterways are facing threats, pollution, habitat degradation and over use and are putting them at risk.  Let us all be guardians of these precious life lines, cherishing their beauty and biodiversity and preserving them for all to enjoy.”

David thanked the citizen scientists who have been testing the river water weekly from Henley, Sonning, Wargrave, and Marlow.  Earth Watch results on Friday that there were high levels of phosphates and nitrates in the water.

Afterwards, everyone was invited to enjoy some hot chocolate and a piece of ‘poop’ cake!



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