When will this polluting STOP? 

June 2020
To those with the ability to make a difference,
I am writing to you out of deep concern for the health of the beautiful River Chess.
I have been appalled to discover that under certain circumstances the sewage at the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works is being discharged into the river, untreated. I am even more shocked to learn that the Environment Agency allows such discharges. How can this be in any way acceptable?
Rivers are the lifeblood of our land. The water they carry is the most precious of resources, the element that supports all of life on this planet. It is our responsibility and duty to look after and tend these waterways. And it is paramount that they are kept free from pollution. How can we as citizens and custodians of this land allow companies to destroy such a beautiful natural resource? The Chess flows not for the benefit of company profits but for the health and well-being of all life. It is a gift that those of us privileged to live in this corner of the country should tend with reverence and deep gratitude. It should absolutely not be used as a dumping ground for effluent. What does that say of us as a species?
I understand that discharges occur under conditions when the volume of sewage entering the works exceeds the processing capacity and all emergency storage has been filled. I also understand there is space within the Chesham Sewage Treatment Works to build additional storage to avoid any future discharges. Thames Water, the Environment Agency and OFWAT need to look at this issue as a matter of priority. There is simply no excuse for this behaviour, it cannot be allowed to continue.
It seems this practice has been going on for years. On the Chess the last big event was in 2014 when discharges occurred for four months continuously. There was then one event in September 2016 but since September 2019 there have been nine events, coinciding with heavy rain. With changing weather patterns, themselves the fault of human actions, these incidents will undoubtedly occur more frequently. In addition, with rising groundwater things will only get more challenging. It is imperative to call a halt now.
I would like to remind you that the River Chess is a chalk stream, a globally rare habitat, already under pressure from low flows, runoff pollution and invasive species. That the life that should be naturally thriving along its banks and within its waters is being destroyed so casually by human detritus is unforgivable. The river is also a public amenity used by thousands of people for recreational purposes and by local schools and children’s groups for education. Sewage discharges are an unacceptable threat to health and the environment. Solving the issue is straight forward and should be a priority in your local plans. Do not let ours be the generation that turned a blind eye and enabled the destruction of this precious and beautiful habitat. We as a species have done enough damage to this planet. If there is one thing that you do that will make a difference to life for ours and future generations, please please let it be this.
Yours faithfully
Ali Fitzpatrick

Thank you Ali for sharing your letter with the Parish. Let’s hope that we can all make our voices heard on this important issue.