Raw sewage floating past the garden is a sight one family in Wargrave has said it has sadly ‘got used’ to at their riverside home.

Catherine Abbott lives on a house by the river Loddon with her husband and two children. She told Bracknell News the sight of raw sewage streaming past her garden after being discharged from a nearby Thames Water treatment plant has become more common.

She said: “It’s one of those things we’ve got used to over the years, but it is getting worse. We have seen raw sewage in the river, and that’s a regular occurrence – it’s not a one-off.

“We used to swim in the river. I’m not sure that we would now because kids have been ill and you do hear of a lot of people being quite ill now swimming in the river. And you don’t really want to get into the water when you see there’s poo there.”

READ MORE: Customers will pay to stop sewage spills, Thames Water says

She added: “I was weeding by the river about six months ago and there was raw sewage as I was stood there.”

Thames Water says it only discharges raw sewage into rivers when its treatment works are unable to cope with the volume of water they have to process, such as during heavy rain.

But the company has faced accusations that it has neglected investing in pipes and treatment works to cope with high volumes of sewage, while paying millions of pounds in dividends to internal shareholders.

For its part, Thames Water says it needs to be able to increase water bills by 40 per cent over five years so that it can invest some £18.7 billion into improving its sewage network over the same period.

But the plans have to be signed off by water regulator Ofwat – which has refused to allow the 40 per cent increase. Thames Water is also burdened with more than £15 billion of debt – and there are fears the company could collapse.

Bracknell News: Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey and Wokingham general election candidate Clive Jones inspect the river LoddonLiberal Democrat leader Ed Davey and Wokingham general election candidate Clive Jones inspect the river Loddon (Image: Paul King)

Liberal Democrat party leader Ed Davey called for the government to take over Thames Water temporarily when he visited Catherine’s house on Monday, April 29.

He told the News: "[The plan would] get Thames Water out of the mess it is in at the moment, ensures that consumers and businesses still get the water that they need and things like sewage works can function."

Mr Davey also blamed the Conservative government for failing to regulate the water industry properly. He also criticised Wokingham MP John Redwood, who has previously spoken of how he argued for the water industry to be nationalised in 1989.

But Mr Redwood says nationalisation would be ‘a particularly bad idea’ as it would mean the government might have to take on Thames Water’s debt and compensate its shareholders.

In a recent blog post he wrote: “Nationalisation is a particularly bad idea. Existing shareholders would need to be compensated for the enforced sale of their shares.

“After deciding what to pay for the assets the state would then need to find additional money to increase the investment spend. It would all add up to a very large bill for taxpayers.”