Pictured: A polluted outfall in London
Following extensive investigations, 249 appliances including toilets, baths and washing machines no longer empty their contents into Pymmes Park Lake, Edmonton, north London, thanks to four years of hard graft by Thames Water, the Environment Agency and Enfield Council.
Detective work began in 2013 after dirty water, which should have been destined for waste water pipes was found to be running into rain water drains.
7565 homes in and around the park were examined in a bid to stop foul water from everyday household appliances, like toilets and baths, ending up in the lake.
Richard Pumfrett from Thames Water’s environmental protection team, said: “No one wants foul domestic waste water emptying directly into their local lake, so it’s great to have sorted this problem out and improved the water quality.
“We’ve still got a massive job to do to trace more of these misconnections across our region – so it’s really important that anyone having extensions built or carrying out plumbing work employs a reputable plumber.”
Around 2.5% of homes surveyed were identified as being wrongly connected, with 249 appliances found to be emptying straight into the watercourse and eventually into the lake itself. Thames Water has been working with property owners to ensure their pipes have been properly reconnected and a recent Environment Agency report shows pollution levels have significantly reduced.
Gemma Sloan, environment officer at the Environment Agency, added: “The Environment Agency is really pleased that Thames Water’s hard work has helped clean up this lake. Washing machines, showers and baths were regularly discharging into it and reducing the water quality for the wildlife and creating an unpleasant environment in the park.
“To ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the future we encourage homeowners to check that they are connected right – you can find information on how to do this on the ConnectRight website (www.connectright.org.uk).”
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said: “Over the past four years Enfield Council has been working in partnership with Thames Water to address the problem of illegal drainage misconnections. Surface water drains are only meant to take rain water, consequently, anything poured into a surface water drain finishes up in nearby rivers and water courses.
“Thanks to our proactive joint-working arrangement the Council was able to assist in cases where residents whose properties were misconnected either refused access or simply failed to carry out the remedial works within a reasonable timescale.
“It has been a long, arduous project, but one which has been worthwhile to ensure that our local environment is free of pollution, safe for residents and for local wildlife."
The Thames Water misconnections team works in close partnership with the Environment Agency to trace and reduce the number of misconnections. It's predicted that there are at least another 60,000 misconnections still to be found.