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Oxford granted bathing water status at Wolvercote Mill Stream 

Tuesday 12th April 2022 10:27

Two friends sit on a picnic blanket next to a river

  • Thames Water is a member of the Oxford Rivers Project which made the application for Designated Bathing Water Status at Wolvercote Mill Stream
  • Thames Water provided river water quality monitoring support by analysing River Thames water samples at its laboratories 
  • The company is upgrading its Witney sewage treatment works which is upstream of Wolvercote Mill Stream to assist in improving river health.

Thames Water has welcomed the first river to be designated bathing water in its region.

Wolvercote Mill Stream, which is located north of Port Meadow in Oxford, has become the second inland river in the UK to achieve Designated Bathing Water Status.   

Thames Water is part of the Oxford Rivers Project which made the official bathing water application and has recently announced a package of measures to improve river quality and reduce sewage discharges in its region.

The company also supported the application through water quality monitoring of the River Thames and sample analysis at its laboratories

Designated Bathing Water Status at Wolvercote Mill Stream means the public will be able to access weekly water quality data throughout the official outdoor bathing season, which runs from May to September.

Thames Water will continue to monitor water quality levels in the area to help improve and maintain the status of the bathing water site, in partnership with Oxford City Council, the Environment Agency and the Oxford Rivers Project. 

“I’m thrilled that designated bathing water status has been granted to the Wolvercote Mill Stream in our region, the second time this has ever happened for a UK river."
Sarah Bentley - Thames Water CEO
Sarah Bentley
Thames Water CEO
Sarah Bentley, Thames Water CEO said: “I’m thrilled that designated bathing water status has been granted to the Wolvercote Mill Stream in our region, the second time this has ever happened for a UK river. With this new elevated status, we’ll continue to work with Oxford City Council and our partners to monitor water quality in the Thames. It’s so important that people feel able to swim, and local wildlife can thrive, in river environments.

 

“Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us. We have committed to reducing the annual duration of sewage discharges into rivers by 50% across the Thames Valley by 2030 and have planned substantial investment in our local sewer network to reduce spills, including a major expansion at Witney sewage treatment works in Oxfordshire. After a successful trial in the Oxford area, we’re also on track to provide live alerts from all 468 permitted locations across our region, within an hour of discharges starting and stopping, by the end of 2022.

 

“We’re clear it’s completely unacceptable for any untreated sewage to enter rivers, whether it’s permitted or not. Stopping discharges altogether will take time and sustained investment, however each step we take on this journey is a move in the right direction.”

 

In March, the business launched its river health commitments at the Rivers Trust annual conference.  

 

The company is also expanding its capacity at Witney sewage treatment works which is upstream of Wolvercote Mill Stream. It is spending £8million to upgrade the site in 2022/3 which will provide 50% more treatment capacity.

 

The Oxford Rivers Project is a partnership project between The Rivers Trust, Thames21, Oxford City Council and Thames Water.

 

Find out more about Designated Bathing Water Status.