Dirty Water

On 28th January, as part of a national campaign, XR Oxford joined with many other groups across the county to highlight the government’s disgraceful inaction on sewage pollution in our waterways, unveiling ‘blue plaques’ commemorating the voting down in October 2021 of an amendment that would have required water companies to clean up their act. Many other Oxfordshire groups took part in the action, targeting specific MPs who had voted against the amendment. 

In Oxford, we gathered at noon at the Wolvercote Mill Stream official bathing site, downstream of the Witney’s Sewage Treatment Works, and which has since been demonstrated as unsafe for swimming. After a performance of Trev Williams’ ‘Brown River’, speeches from councillors and campaigners, and an arresting appearance from the Red Rebels, a new plaque was unveiled.

Because feelings on this issue run high, interest in the action was strong: there was a very good turnout, and we made links with a lot of groups we had not connected with much before, particularly wild swimmers and water pollution campaigners, who were glad to see us keeping up the pressure on the government. We took the opportunity to invite them to join us in holding the government to account, on this issue and so many others, in London in April.

Importantly, this is just the first of the Dirty Water ‘waves’. Wave Two, focusing on the water companies themselves, will be coming in mid-March, and we will build then on the connections we’ve made for an even bigger and bolder action.

Written by April Jones, edited by Tyson Jones, with photos by Kim, C S and Kitkat