No river or stream in Bracknell Forest are ‘good’ healthy places for plants and wildlife, it has been revealed. And pollution caused by Thames Water sewage discharges is a major reason why.

Dave Willis of the government’s Environment Agency said none of the six river bodies in the borough meet ‘good’ ecological status, where fish and all but the most sensitive wildlife are protected.

Mr Willis said: “If we look at the current status of rivers in the Bracknell Forest area none of the six river water bodies currently meet good ecological status.

“The ecological quality of rivers in the Bracknell Forest area is not where we all want them to be. The issues facing the catchments are varied and complex with no simple or quick solutions.”

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Mr Willis was speaking as Bracknell Forest councillors began an investigation into how the council can get Thames Water to reduce the number of sewage discharges into the borough’s rivers.

The water company has come under fire over the past year for the amount of untreated sewage it has discharged into rivers. Figures revealed in November showed that it has pumped 72 billion litres of untreated sewage into the Thames alone since 2020.

Mr Willis said the agency rated Thames Water ‘two stars’ out of four for its performance, with one being ‘poor’. He said concerns include ‘the total number of pollution incidents’ and ‘the high number of serious pollution incidents.’

Thames Water sustainability director Ricard Aylard admitted that the company is the ‘single biggest’ reason water in the Thames River Basin is not at ‘good’ ecological status. But he said pollution and changes to the rivers from agriculture and urban runoff were also big factors.

Mr Aylard said: “About a third of the problem is us, and we’re the biggest single problem, no doubt about it.

“But you’ve also got agriculture and rural land management – quite a big section – and then you’ve got urban and transport.”

READ MORE: Bracknell council to scrutinise Thames Water over river pollution

Mr Aylard also claimed that sewage discharges usually happen when treatment works are unable to cope with the volume of water flowing into them – especially during heavy rain. He said Thames Water planned to upgrade sewage treatment works in Bracknell Forest.

Upgrade work is set to be completed in Ascot in 2024, in Bracknell in 2026 and in Easthampstead Park and Sandhurst in 2025.

The ‘open river bodies’ monitored by the Environment Agency in Bracknell Forest include various sections of The Cut, as well as Bull Brook, Emm Brook and the Blackwater.

All of them have ‘moderate’ ecological status. This means wildlife and fish are harmed by changes to the river – and some good uses of the river have been restricted.