Thames Water has now clocked up £32million in fines in over four years after the utility company was ordered to pay £4million on Friday.

After a hearing, the court imposed the fine after it was discovered that half a Million Gallons of rawsewage had accumulated in a river for over 30 hours prior to action being taken.

The Thames Water Utilities Limited discharged sewage in the Seacourt-Hinksey rivers in Oxford, on July 24, and 25, 2016, according to a judge.

The utility was fined the £4million at the conclusion of its third major prosecution this year and swelled the total of fines for water pollution since 2017 to a staggering £32.4 million.

Thomas Water has also been ordered to pay the prosecution costs in the sum of £90,713.

The Environment Agency spokeswoman said the discharge lasted about 30 hours, and flowed at most 2 miles down streams through a pub and past community allotments.

“We think it caused the death of as many as 3,000 fish including bullheads and perch, chubs, roaches, gudgeons and chubs. Some of these fish were up to nine years of age.”

Thames Water has now clocked up £32million in fines in over four years after the utility company was ordered to pay £4million on Friday. Pictured: Thames Water HQ in Berkshire

Thames Water has now clocked up £32million in fines in over four years after the utility company was ordered to pay £4million on Friday. Pictured: Thames Water HQ in Berkshire

Court heard that the company did not perform necessary maintenance to stop blockages in a drain it was aware of being vulnerable.

There was no way to spot pollution or blockages. Instead, it relied heavily on observation by the public. It was clear that the incident was preventable and foreseeable.

A spokesperson said Judge Francis Sheridan referred to it as another grave breach of legislation in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and called the situation a shameful waterfall of rawsewage.

‘[The Judge]He said that environment was something we cannot treat as our own, and that we were living in borrowed time. He spoke out about a missing manual and said the failures were “frankly embarrassing” and this can’t happen again.

“Canoeists found themselves in the sewage alongside dead fish and reported it to Environment Agency. Environment Agency officers arrived on the scene to trace the source of the pollution.

Robert Davis, a senior Environment Agency officer, was there to witness the tragedy in Oxford. There was an awful stench of raw sewerage and it was everywhere from bank to bank.

“When we located the source, we discovered a waterfall of raw sewerage that was flowing into the streams through a pipe. In addition to the hundreds of dead fish, the Fisheries Officers observed many more people on the surface gasping and suffering for oxygen.

Thames Water, which was involved in a large sewer replacement project in 2012, opted to save many million dollars and relied on a six-monthly cleaning of their sewers to avoid the risk of blocking.

But, the company didn’t comply with permit by not having a program that covered maintenance of downstream sewers. Despite being in possession the manual clearly detailing the need for maintenance as well as the potential risk of blocking and pollution if not done,

The spokesman said that after a thorough criminal investigation, the water company failed to properly maintain the high-risk sewer section for 16 years. 

Pictured: A photo released by the Environment Agency showing one of the streams that was polluted by raw sewage in 2016

Pictured: An Environment Agency photo showing one stream that had been polluted with raw sewage in 2016.

Thames Water had received two warnings from The Environment Agency in the past due to earlier pollution at the discharge point. This was due to an earlier blockage that occurred between February 2012 and March 2012.

Court was informed that the water company had not disclosed highly pertinent documents including maintenance manuals until last minute and after public members brought it to the attention the Environment Agency.

Davis said that the fine sent out a clear message to all boards of water companies: invest in your sewers, and make sure you do not let down when it comes time to perform maintenance.

“Incidents of this nature are avoidable, and completely unacceptable. This is especially true at a time in which the water environment needs to be protected for both humans and wildlife has never been more urgent and where environmental awareness and concerns are so prevalent.

“We urge anybody who sees water contamination to immediately report it to our Incident Hotline at 0800 80 70 60.

Richard Aylard, Thames Water's sustainability director (pictured), apologised for the 2016 incident in a statement to the MailOnline

Richard Aylard (pictured), Thames Water’s Sustainability Director, apologized for the 2016 incident through a statement to MailOnline

Thames Water issued an apology to MailOnline in a statement.

‘We are deeply sorry for this incident in 2016 and the entirely unacceptable pollution that was caused to the Seacourt Stream, following a blockage of our sewer,’ Richard Aylard, Thames Water’s sustainability director said.

We pleaded guilty and accepted the judgment of the Court that our actions in not cleaning up this sewer line were a failure.

“But the times have changed. We are now doing five times the amount of sewer cleaning in 2016 as part of our comprehensive turnaround program.

This latest conviction brings the total amount of fines levied against Thames Water since 2017 to £32.4 million for 11 cases of water pollution across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

The announcement follows that Ofwat, the Environment Agency, and Ofwat announced on Thursday they have opened new investigations into sewer treatment facilities after additional checks showed that water companies may be releasing unpermitted waste.

Mr Aylard also addressed the decision, saying Thames Water has invested an ‘unprecedented amount’ towards safeguarding rivers and streams. 

Ofwat’s and the Environment Agency’s recent decision to investigate sewage flows across rivers and watercourses is a rightful way to bring this topic to light.

‘Our view is that it’s unacceptable for untreated sewage to enter rivers, even when legally permitted, and we have an unprecedented amount of investment directed towards safeguarding our rivers and streams, including spending more than £1.25 billion at our sewage treatment works during our current five year business plan.’  

Regulators launched a massive investigation of over 2,000 UK sewer works yesterday as part a crackdown on illegally pumped foul water into rivers and oceans.

After checks showed that some water companies may have released unpermitted waste into their watercourses, major investigation is underway. 

Ofwat and the Environment Agency (EA), the water regulator, initiated the investigation after several water companies acknowledged that their sewage treatment facilities may not have met the requirements. 

But, it is not known yet which companies are being accused.

This probe involves more than 2000 sewage treatment plants, and any company that breaches its permits could face possible prosecution or fines. 

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice (above) pledged an amendment to enshrine in law a new duty ¿to ensure water companies secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows¿

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice (above) pledged an amendment to enshrine in law a new duty ‘to ensure water companies secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows’

This map from The Rivers Trust shows where sewage enters local rivers. The trust advises people to avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges and avoid the overflows (brown circles), especially after it has been raining

The Rivers Trust has created this map that shows the locations where wastewater enters rivers. It is important to not enter the river immediately downstream of discharges. The trust also advises that you avoid overflows (brown circles), especially if it’s been wet.

Issues arose last month as Britain’s sewers struggle to cope in heavy rain, leaving sewage works overwhelmed.  

Combinated sewer overflows can pump sewage out of sewerage systems and into rivers. Also known as storm overflows or release valves, 

Overflows can be used to drain excess water after heavy rain or storms to prevent sewage from backing up in homes.

Water companies can release rainwater, along with a lesser amount of untreated wastewater, to stop it from happening. 

Film footage was taken in October and showed untreated wastewater being discharged from Southern Water’s Budds Farm treatment facility. It is located at a 7-foot wide outfall that leads to a conservation area of Hampshire.

Untreated sewage has been pumped into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times in the last year, according to the EA.