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Customer research lifts the lid on sewage stink in Camberley

CCW and Ofwat have today published the results of research into customers’ experience of how Thames Water handled an incident in Camberley in 2023, in which a foul smell from a sewage treatment works, which lasted for months, affected thousands of people in the local area. The research is part of a series in which Ofwat and CCW are listening to customers about their experiences when something goes wrong with their water provider.

Between February and March of 2023, raw sewage sludge was imported to Thames Water’s sewage treatment works in Camberley. The sewage remained untreated on site until September 2023 and led to a strong odour permeating the surrounding community. This odour was so strong that it caused various mental health impacts for residents and some reported physical problems.

Customers described how they struggled to go about their daily lives given the difficulty of avoiding an odour that permeated both indoors and outdoors. Customers also relayed that they did not feel reassured that Thames Water was taking the problem seriously and only eventually acted when under pressure from the local MP and councillors.

Customers were also frustrated by the poor communication from Thames Water, with some reporting they only received one update from the company throughout the whole period. Once the situation was addressed, customers said they did not feel they received an adequate explanation or apology. Ofwat and CCW have told the company they need to put this right.

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