On Sunday morning local residents from Extinction Rebellion Winchester took action against the dumping of sewage into the River Itchen [1].  They installed 30 satirical Toxic Water signs around Winchester to draw attention to the terrible state of our rivers.

The signs highlight Southern Water’s appalling record on water quality.  Having been responsible for over 8,400 illegal discharges and 6,971 illegal spills, which amounts to 21bn litres of raw sewage.  In 2021, the prosecutor Mr Justice Johnson said that Southern Water has demonstrated a “…shocking and wholesale disregard for the environment, for precious, delicate ecosystems and coastlines, and human health…” [2].

According to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, in a joint statement with OFWAT and the Environment Agency: “Nobody wants a child to ingest human faeces”. They went on to say: “the principal public health responsibility for ensuring human faeces and viable human faecal bacteria do not get into waterways people might use recreationally, rest squarely with the water companies and their directors.” [3].

A spokesperson for XR Winchester says: “Southern Water is destroying the biodiversity of our rivers and putting our health at risk. It will get worse as climate change brings more rain, flooding and pressure on our antiquated and underfunded water and sewage systems. This is a climate and ecological emergency – act now, do your job, Southern Water, and cut the crap!”

This is the second phase of a bigger campaign to protect nature and our waterways. You can take action here:  Please share far and wide and also take action here: