Campaigners for Thames Water respond to company unrest

In Ash Smith

As it struggles to pay its debts, Thames Water, the largest water company in the UK, is in discussions to secure additional funding. After only two years in the position, company CEO Sarah Bentley resigned on Tuesday. Following a string of sewage leaks and discharges, the company has faced harsh criticism. Thames Water has previously stated that it is attempting to raise the money required for improvements.

What do advocates and water users think about this?

Henley Mermaids
Frequently, the Henley Mermaids demonstrate against sewage in the River Thames.

Longtime opponents of sewage pollution include the swimming team Henley Mermaids.

The river had been "treated like an open sewer," according to group member and Green Party councilor Jo Robb.

"Sarah Bentley received a £3.1 million golden welcome when she joined Thames Water, and this year, after making a big show of not taking a bonus, she was paid £1point 5 million.

The Thames tributary River Evenlode is perilously close to extinction as a result of Thames Water's sewage disposal.

"Whoever succeeds will receive a large salary, and we the taxpaying public will be expected to pay for improvements to Thames Water's infrastructure.

While the Thames loses a third of its water to internal leaks, we'll be the ones swimming in rivers that are teeming with sewage and having hosepipe bans enforced.

"The entire system must change. Our water needs to be under our control once more. ".

Peter Devery doing a river fly survey on the River Pang
Water customers had been "cheated," according to fly fisherman Peter Devery.

According to Peter Devery of the Tidmarsh Fly Fishing Syndicate on the River Pang in Berkshire, the unrest was brought on by privatization.

"It is obvious that Thames Water is pulling the plug given the resignation of the CEO and reports that the chairman will be replaced.

"The failed neoliberal experiment to monetize water has resulted in this.

"Profit-driven water companies have systematically cheated and defrauded the public for many years.

"To pay for river restoration and new sewage infrastructure, Ofwat [the water regulator] urgently needs to recoup misappropriated funds.

"Water companies' debt-ridden and unsustainable businesses should not be bailed out with public funds in any way. " .

Ash Smith
Ashley Smith, a sludge campaigner, claimed that customers had been let down by the privatization of the water sector.

Ashley Smith, a campaigner for Windrush Against Sewage Pollution in Oxfordshire, claimed Sarah Bentley had not improved.

"That's another CEO who bites the dust after joining Thames Water and leaving Thames Water breaking the law on an epic scale," he said.

"There was no change. She accepted a sizable bonus, and the government does nothing but watch as CEOs continue to bilk the tax payer by coming and going.

"This privatized fraud must end, and the government must do it. For thirty years, it hasn't worked.

We're discussing public ownership or mutualization, which eliminates the financial motivation to defraud the billpayer. ".

The BBC has asked Thames Water to comment on the experiences of water users and activists who have spoken with them.

Prior to this, it stated that it was keeping the water regulator, Ofwat, up to date on its progress and that it still had "strong" cash and borrowing reserves available.

The government says it is prepared to take action in the worst case scenario, if the company collapses, and the water company is currently in talks to secure additional funding.

Rebecca Pow, the environment minister, responded that it was not her place to comment on a company's financial situation when she was questioned about Thames Water in Parliament, but added that water companies were "considered resilient.".

Due to rising interest rates on their debts, as well as rising expenses like higher energy and chemical prices, other water firms are also under pressure.

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