Water firm’s pollution of the Thames threatens Oxford-Cambridge boat race

The outcome of the Oxford-Cambridge boat race could be the least interesting aspect of it this year, compared with the after-effects of being in a highly-polluted River Thames.

Levels of E coli found on the boat race course were nearly 10 times higher than levels found in bathing waters graded as “poor” by Environment Agency standards – the worst possible rating.

As a result, organisers have issued new safety guidance this year, including a warning to rowers not to enter the water and to cover any open wounds.

It seems likely that the tradition of the winning team’s cox being thrown, or jumping, into the river will be ditched – for the sake of their health.

The emergency changes are the latest effect of the mass-pollution of the UK’s rivers and waterways by privatised water firms that have refused to modernise their systems, instead giving away the billions of pounds they have taken from service users to shareholders and executives as dividends and salary bonuses.

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Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this is the way the people have just accepted it:

How did we reach this new low?

Here’s a quick recap of what has happened between 1989, when Margaret Thatcher privatised water, and today. Thatcher’s own words – that “we had better wait and see so we can pontificate in the light of the facts” – damn her:

Thames Water – the privatised firm that (obviously) oversees the River Thames – is in serious debt trouble, with calls to re-nationalise it briefly so that the public can take on the burden and shareholders won’t have to take the hit.

Sadly, even Labour isn’t keen to do what’s really necessary, which is to re-nationalise the water companies permanently and make sure the money they take goes into restoring the ancient system. Take note of the comment from ‘Sharon’, who is probably right:

Nationalising water would bring a huge amount of money back to the Treasury. Note also that Louise Haigh’s claim that there isn’t the money for nationalisation is false – government bonds can be issued to cover it:

Look at the differences in efficiency between a nationalised and privatised service:

Perhaps the clearest indication of the difference between a nationalised and privatised water service is in the number of reservoirs that have been built to help provide it:

It is clear – clearer than the sewage-filled water in your local river, at least – that water privatisation has been nothing but a cash fountain for greedy shareholders who have siphoned off all the money – not just the profits – for their own personal gain.

With neither Labour nor the Tories willing to turn the taps off, we need new, Independent talent in Westminster – before traditions like the Oxford-Cambridge boat race disappear beneath a rising tide of excrement.

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