Only a super-sewer will get London out of the mes we are in says Boris

In his Daily Telegraph article today, Boris argues that it will take a super-sewer to get us out of the mess we are in. Boris is writing about David Walliams’ 140 mile swim from Gloucestshire to London to raise money for charity.

Boris says: “He (Walliams) has only one thing to fear, as he porpoises along. There is one risk more   dangerous than the cold, or the currents, or the rats or the pike or the   snagging of underwater weeds or the churn of outboard motors or even the siren call of foxy Henley ladies as they lean from their launches in their   leopardskin bikinis and invite him inside for a warming cup of tea. The thing he has to worry about is rain.

Yes, rain is the danger, even for a man in a wetsuit and immersed in the   Thames. Because as soon as it rains more than 2mm, the sewers of London   are no longer able to cope with their burden and pwooosh – the Bazalgette   interceptors are discharged into the Thames, with consequences that simply   cannot be ignored.

It is not just that poor David Walliams will be at yet graver risk of an upset   stomach, or that the rowers of Putney start to find the water full of   unmentionable items. Nor is it just the massacre of fish and other aquatic   life-forms. We are facing the long-term deterioration in Thames water   quality, and unless we act now I am afraid no one in their right mind will   be swimming this river in 10 years’ time – certainly not beyond Teddington.

The sewers of London are already so full, and so much rainfall now sluices   into them off the concrete and tarmac rather than sinking into the turf,   that these Bazalgette interceptors are already exploding into the Thames   about 50 times a year, and the discharge rate is increasing the whole time.

When Joseph Bazalgette built his remarkable system, he thought big. His sewers   are still robust, and they are impressive feats of architecture and   engineering. But they were designed for a city of 2.5 million people; and   the population of London is now pushing eight million, and heading for nine.

In one of the crimes for which we are truly all guilty, society is now   discharging an awful 50 million tons of raw sewage into the river in London   alone, and unless we are bold in our plans, that figure will rise to 70   million tons in 10 years; and no matter how gutsy David Walliams may be, his future swims could well be banned by elf ’n’ safety.”

When Bazalgette designed his interceptors, in response to the Great Stink of   1858, he assumed that they would only kick into action in emergencies –   truly torrential downpours of a kind that happen once or twice a year. That   is why it is time to recognise that we can no longer rely on Victorian   capital, and why Thames Water is right to be consulting on its proposed super-sewer, known as the Thames Tideway Tunnel.”

Read all about Boris’s solution and the benefits it will have for London here.

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