Rural Reading: Sewage overspill awaits whitethroatsBy Adrian Lawson
April 27, 2012
The little whitethroats, regular summer visitors, have arrived in the meadows at the end of my road.
This happens like clockwork every year about April 22, ever since I first noticed them in 1988, the year I moved here.
Last year they were early, the year before early too, and this year I was regularly checking to see if they had arrived. While looking I found many butterflies, saw my first swallow and found a great spotted woodpecker nest in an old willow. The blackthorn was still in flower too. These are quite special fields for more than just the whitethroats.
Sadly on Sunday, the day they should have arrived, the sewage pumping station had failed and the pipes feeding it had overflowed on to the fields.
This happens with increasing regularity, it was only over Christmas that I had to get them out to deal with the same problem and last summer there was a problem too.
The pumping station needs to be modernised, and there is no reason to do so; the sewage only floods into some fields.
The whitethroat spends the winter as far away as Timbuktu, maybe even further south. They then fly north across the Sahara desert, over the Atlas mountains, the Mediterranean sea, and then Spain, France and finally the channel.
They choose, for a reason we can only really guess at, to raise their young in these fields which Thames Water think are okay to use as a dumping ground.
Where the sewage lies the vegetation is dying, where it flows into a stream which flows the length of the meadows all the way to Rose Kiln Lane the water is black and lifeless. I have met engineers and inspectors and spent time and money on phone calls, but nothing has actually been done.