Raw sewage flooding a Cambridgeshire river for hours was blamed on Anglian Water’s slow response.

The company was fined £18,000 for failures at a pumping station in 2019 that an investigation said showed up their “reactive attitude” to pollution.

District judge Ken Sheraton said Anglian Water should have given “a higher category of response” to a second sewage pump failing because the site at Yaxley was operating at a lower capacity with another pump already out of order.

Roach, pike and eel were among 60 dead fish recovered but fisheries specialists from the Environment Agency believe many more would have been killed by a sharp decline in water quality caused by the release of the effluent.

Anglian Water pleaded guilty to polluting Pig Water Drain, Yaxley.

At Peterborough magistrates’ court on May 4, 2022, district judge Sheraton also ordered Anglian Water to pay £10,957.80 in costs to the Environment Agency.

Wisbech Standard: Dead fish at Yaxley after sewage releaseDead fish at Yaxley after sewage release (Image: EA)

The Environment Agency said the pumps were meant to regulate the flow of effluent but had stopped working a week apart, meaning raw sewage poured into Pig Water Drain, for several hours.

Whittlesey area volunteer water bailiff Roy Bridson said: “Not so long ago I reported that raw sewage was being pumped illegally into our rivers in this area; some disagreed with me saying that it doesn’t happen

“Well just to let you all know and to reiterate on this disgusting venture to save money by Anglia Water, the Environment Agency has taken them to court and they have been found guilty of a serious breach of their working practices by releasing neat sewerage into our rivers.

“Not only did this pollute our waterways and kill endless amounts of wildlife but it’s also a reminder of what I keep saying about swimming in our local rivers.

Wisbech Standard: Raw sewage pumped into this riverRaw sewage pumped into this river (Image: EA)

“Both the Bower and Morton’s leem are connected to the Nene, swimming in raw sewage is not something that comes to mind on a hot day.

The incident was reported by a dog-walker who reported a creamy substance on the surface of the watercourse. The woman said she saw fish leaping from the water like they’d been electrocuted or attacked.

Wisbech Standard: Raw sewage flows into stream at YaxleyRaw sewage flows into stream at Yaxley (Image: EA)

An Environment Agency officer felt Anglian Water staff seemed blind to the ongoing incident – one employee telling the technician there was nothing wrong, that no sewage was being pumped into the river.