Thames Water has proposed to transfer water out of Teddington Lock and replace it with treated sewage water.

The company has put forward this “water recycling” plan to cope with shortages because of the rising population and predicted droughts in the future.

Thames Water wants to remove 150 million litres of water a day from the Thames above Teddington lock in south-west London and transfer it by a pipeline to reservoirs in the Lee Valley in east London.

A report on the Thames Water website reads: “This scheme will help keep the River Thames flowing and can be introduced within eight years, helping us achieve resilience to a 1:200 year drought event by 2031.

“There are other schemes that we could deliver within eight years, such as a water recycling scheme in Beckton, East London, but these are all more expensive.”

The river water will be replaced by treated wastewater from Mogden, one of the biggest sewage plants in the UK, but Thames Water explains that this water would be “highly treated”.

Thames Water has also announced it has begun work on a £100million upgrade of its Mogden sewage treatment works.

The company says that putting the recycled water into the River Thames above the Teddington Weir will “compensate” the river for the additional abstracted water and protect the environment and wildlife.

It first suggested the plan in 2019, but it was rejected by the Environment Agency because of its impact on the environment.

In response to Thames Water’s proposals, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, Munira Wilson MP, said: "These plans are deeply concerning. Thames Water already have a terrible record at protecting our rivers.

“In last two years they've dumped raw sewage into our rivers over 33,000 times for over 370,000 hours.

“How can we trust them to protect the Thames now?

"Meanwhile they're losing 635m litres of water everyday to leaks they're failing to fix - if they sorted this these plans might not be needed.

“Meanwhile in the last two years their top execs were paid £6.1 million including £2.9 million in bonuses.

"The Conservatives desperately need to get their act together and force water companies to act in a responsible way."

There is currently public consultation on Water Resources Management Plan 2024 which will run until March 21, 2023.

A Thames Water Spokesperson said: “A significant driver in our draft WRMP is to improve the environment we are so heavily reliant on.

“We have proposed reducing abstraction from our vulnerable chalk streams and other watercourses in order to improve flows and the habitats for fish and other wildlife. We think this is the right thing to do.

“With regards specifically to the New River Abstraction at Teddington, highly treated recycled water will be transferred from Mogden sewage treatment works to upstream of Teddington Weir and put into the River Thames.

“A new pumping station and pipeline will be built at Teddington in order to enable the abstracted water to join an existing underground tunnel to the Lee Valley reservoirs in East London.

“Putting the recycled water into the River Thames above the Teddington Weir will ‘compensate’ the river for the additional abstracted water and protect the environment and wildlife.

“The Environment Agency has been involved in the development of the proposals included in the WRMP to date.

"A full environment impact assessment is being undertaken and will be submitted along-side the planning application that is required to be able to build the scheme.

In terms of sewage pollution, Thames Water said: “Our shareholders have recently approved a business plan that sees us spending an additional £2billion beyond what our customers are funding so we can improve outcomes for customers, leakage and river health.

“This will allow us to deliver our commitment to a 50 per cent reduction in the total annual duration of discharges across London and the Thames Valley by 2030, and within that an 80 per cent reduction in sensitive catchments.

“We have started the £100 million upgrade of our Mogden sewage treatment works and are currently increasing sewage treatment capacity at a number of our other sewage works across the Thames Valley, including Witney, Chesham and Fairford to be completed by 2025.

“We have a long way to go – and we certainly can’t do it on our own – but the ambition is clear.”

Specifically on targeting leaks, a spokesperson for Thames Water said: “Reducing leakage is a priority for us.

“Right now, around 24 per cent of the water we supply is lost through leaks from our own network and customer pipes.

“We know it’s not acceptable to be losing so much precious water and we’ve got a plan to fix it. We’ve met our target for the last three years, reducing leaks by more than 10% (from 2017/18 levels), and we’re aiming for a 50% reduction by 2050.

“We are repairing over 1000 leaks per week – whether they are visible or hidden below ground across 20,000 miles of pipes across our network - that’s one leak every 10 minutes.

“We’re also working with our customers to reduce leakage from their water pipes (which make up a third of our total leakage).

“Whilst fixing leaks is one of the foundations of the plan, even with an ambitious target of reducing leaks by 50%, we still need more storage in the future to account for growing population demand and climate change.”