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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Anglers' 20m sewage demand
Dead fish found in the River Thames
Thousands of fish died after storms forced untreated water into the Thames
Thames Water has been asked to pay 20m in compensation after thousands of fish were killed by 600,000 tonnes of untreated sewage.

In a letter, the National Federation of Anglers in the South East has requested that the water company pay the money to replenish fish stocks.

Bad drainage caused sewage to enter the Thames during storms this month.

Thames Water said it has sent a report to the government on possible solutions to stop sewage getting into the river.

The time it will take the fish population to recover from the effects of the sewage is disputed.

There has to be a new sewer...We're dealing with large quantities of contaminated water - a million cubic metres
Peter Lloyd, the Environment Agency
Angler Keith Arthur told BBC London: "It's a loss for everybody. Just imagine if it was a hundred thousand otters, sparrows or blackbirds destroyed by pollution - there would be a national outcry.

"But because it's fish they're the unseen wildlife for Britain. Nobody knows they're there except anglers, so nobody really cares."

In a statement, Thames Water has said the floods were a freak occurrence, wildlife in only part of the river was affected and they understand that stocks are likely to recover quickly.

They do not think compensation will be necessary, and the system has been designed to discharge dilute sewage to the river if heavy rainfall causes it to reach capacity - preferable, they say, to the flooding of gardens and homes.

This has been agreed with the Environment Agency which has not sent a request to restock the river.

Rowers warned

Pete Lloyd, from the Agency, believes that the smaller species of fish will repopulate quickly but the larger variety will take several years.

He said with so many discharges of sewage into the river every time it rains, it never has a chance to get back to normal: "If you look at the river today you'll see various signs of sewage pollution and debris.

"There is really only one solution and that has to be a new sewer. We're dealing with large quantities of contaminated water - a million cubic metres."

Water quality in the Thames is improving and water sports like rowing have resumed following a suspension.

However, Richard Phillips from the London Rowing Club says rowers are still being advised to take precautions.

He said: "We've been telling them to make sure that they wash themselves and clean their boats thoroughly after they come off the water."

Action pledged on Thames sewage
06 Aug 04  |  Politics

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