The 44-year-old told a House of Commons reception, hosted by environmentalist and conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, that London’s antiquated sewer network is a “disgusting embarrassment” that urgently needs tackling.
The Westminster event followed a close-up inspection of one of the overflow vents. Roz rowed under Putney Bridge to see for herself the human effluent, sanitary items and other detritus that run from the combined sewer overflow (CSO) beneath the busy Thames crossing, just yards away from riverside restaurants and prestigious rowing clubs.
Putney Bridge CSO discharges 34 times a year on average, accounting for 68,200 of the 39m tonnes of sewage that annually enters the river from the 36* most-polluting CSOs built into London’s overstretched Victorian sewer network.
Roz, the first woman to row across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, braved London’s filthy waters in her role as ambassador for Thames Tunnel Now (TTN) – a coalition of 18 environmental groups who support the proposed Thames Tunnel, which will stop sewage entering the river.
After her trip to see the Putney sewer overflow, Roz addressed a TTN reception at the House of Commons attended by nearly 200 supporters of the project. Roz said: “It’s a disgusting embarrassment that we are dumping hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sewage into the river every week. It is also a serious health hazard and I hate to think what visitors to the Olympics will think. I’ve rowed through some pretty grim stuff on my travels but the Thames is heart-breakingly returning to the open sewer it used to be 200 years ago. The Thames Tunnel cannot come soon enough.”
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