Children have been playing in a Croydon stream polluted with sewage that “smells like drains” and has wet wipes lining its banks. 

Locals are now calling on Thames Water to stop letting raw sewage into the South Norwood waterway.

Untreated sewage was poured into a stream in South Norwood Country Park 20 times in 2021 and it has already happened twice again this year – once in January and again in April.

It comes from a pumping station in the park, usually when there is heavy rain.

Your Local Guardian: Pollution in the brook in South Norwood Country Park (Credit: Tara O'Connor)Pollution in the brook in South Norwood Country Park (Credit: Tara O'Connor)

Amy Foster from Croydon Living Streets, who is also a Labour councillor for the area, said: “It has been a problem for years.

"The banks of the river are filled with sludge and that whole area of the park smells when it rains.

“It is a nice spot and people should be able to enjoy the natural beauty. I don’t think people know about it.

"In the bit where the stream is narrow close to the station is where all the wet wipes get caught so it does get filtered a bit it’s clear again so you can’t see the impact further along.”

Your Local Guardian: Pollution in the brook in South Norwood Country Park (photo: Tara O'Connor)Pollution in the brook in South Norwood Country Park (photo: Tara O'Connor)

The stream, known as Chaffinch Brook, goes all round the park and then links on to waterways of the Waterlink Way which goes through South East London all the way to Greenwich.

Not far from the pumping station are stepping stones across the stream, which children paddle in and dogs drink from.

Sue Takwani, from Friends of South Norwood Country Park, said: “This is a nature reserve we shouldn’t have any pollution in our streams.

"There is wildlife using the stream as well as humans. Just because it is a little stream it doesn’t give Thames Water the licence to dump sewage into it. I just don’t think they should be allowed to do it.”

And Violeta Osorio who litter picks in the park thinks Thames Water should monitor the levels of pollution in the waterway.

She said: “I think the community needs to get more information about what is happening in their back garden.

"It is a serious problem, people just don’t know if they did they wouldn’t let their animals drink from it and children play in it. ”

MP for the area, Labour’s Sarah Jones, said she will be requesting an urgent meeting with the water company on the issue.

To raise awareness of the issue, volunteers from local groups will spend the morning of September 17 cleaning up the wet wipes and rubbish in the stream.

It will be on the same day as national action to clean up waterways by Surfers Against Sewage.

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Our aim will always be to try and do the right thing for our rivers and for the communities who love and value them.

"We regard all discharges of untreated sewage as unacceptable and will work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary and are determined to be transparent.

“We recently launched our river health commitments which includes a 50 per cent reduction in the total annual duration of spills across London and the Thames Valley by 2030, and within that an 80 per cent reduction in sensitive catchments.

"This is a key part of our River Health Action Plan to radically improve our position in order to protect and improve the environment.

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