Correcting Severn Trent Water’s lying spin- AGAIN


I suppose I should have known that the irresponsible serial polluting water company Severn Trent Water would attempt to divorce themselves of any responsibility regards bird deaths and the dire state of Smethwick Hall park following the confirmed raw sewage release into this pool.

This was clear from their three representatives at the meeting with Sandwell council a couple of weeks ago, and by the comments made by an unnamed spokesperson in The Express and Star article concerning the petition. 

There are firstly a couple of things to reemphasise from the meeting, and questions which have not been answered.

Firstly Severn Trent know that sewage was reported back in January. The same STW engineer, named in this NIRS report was present at the meeting.

  • Severn Trent set out their version of misconnections with a map of the catchment that they had  been looking at. But I spoke out about how little had been made of the fact that this sewage incident had directly contributed to the dire conditions in the pool. I raised information obtained from an FOI request about NIRS incident reports from the EA, one of which I had reported in January- REF 01672260 06/01/2019. There appears to be great discrepancy in Severn Trent’s statements regards how long this issue of sewage has been affecting the pool. At the meeting, one officer claimed that it would have been a matter of “days” that the sewage had been going into the pool from the so called “unmapped asset”, but if you look at the incident in January, they are themselves aware that sewage was the issue, and smelt it themselves!




“08/01/2019 S. Roe (EA)  rang STWL for an update. Informed that a crew attended and a strong sewage odour was observed. Ammonia readings at the weir were 3.7 and 4.5 at end of lake.”

They were also aware that the levels of ammonia, a strong indicator of sewage were very high. “As far as we can tell from the extensive searches we have been conducting over the last few weeks, there are not any blockages contributing to this pollution and it seems to be multiple miscons that intermittently  pollute. “

Except there WAS a blockage, and this is where the story of the unknown asset starts to become a bit of a mystery as to how it really was.

Of course, when the Environment agency visited the pool in April and following the drop in water levels, the smell and visibility of the human excrement was vivid in intensity.


P.Mullard and B.Baily attended the Smethwick Hall Pool finding the pool containing grey water and solid sewage. P.M and B.B collected water samples and sent them to the lab for analysis. Tom reported Severn Trent had attended on the 28/04/19 and not found a blockage. “


  • The blocked unmapped asset story does not add up, as a local resident who used to work for the parks at SMBC brought up at the meeting. Why would this private operator not know about assets that had always been known about historically by Sandwell council drainage staff?
  • How is it that a Severn Trent team manager believes that this “unmapped asset” ,that they claimed to know mothing about up to the point when they allegedly found it, would only have been discharging raw sewage into the lake for just a few days? How could he possibly know this- if they did not know of the assets existence?
  • How can they possibly estimate the frequency or amount of raw sewage that has been probably been polluting this lake for many years? They cannot divorce the claimed lack of knowledge of its existence, and then invent this total fairy story bullshit of it only producing problems shortly before it was “discovered.”
  • It is clear from the first NIRS report in January that raw sewage was polluting the pool then, as Severn Trent themselves had observed.

In a previous Express and Star story, Severn Trent claimed that raw sewage had nothing to do with the bird deaths and was “unrelated”!


The latest quotes from Severn Trent are as follows.

“Since May, the sewage company said there has been no more reports of contamination at the site. Severn Trent Water also disputes claims that the botulism cases have been caused by polluted water. ”

  • The site IS STILL CONTAMINATED, AND HAS NEVER CEASED TO BE CONTAMINATED! The results that the EA took after the meeting in July confirmed human excrement as present in the silt and in the water.
  • The sediment results can be viewed HERE, and the locations of samples taken in the map.
  • The water sample results can be viewed HERE, and the locations of samples taken in the map.
  • It is still there and hasn’t just magically disappeared.
  • The polluted water claim being unrelated to botulism is risible, as will be shown below.

“A Severn Trent Water spokesman said: “Following extensive testing, it’s clear that the birds at Smethwick Pool died as a result of avian botulism.

“This disease is not commonly associated with domestic sewage of the type that was released accidentally in May.

“We continue to offer our expertise to Sandwell Council and the Environment Agency as they work to improve conditions at the pool.” “

  • How can Severn Trent claim that “domestic sewage” has many different forms?  If it looks like shit and smells like shit, then it will pollute the water, it will raise the PH in the pool, and it will be the case that oxygen will be dissolved, and ammonia readings would rise. ALL OF THIS WAS FOUND BY THE EA TESTS. HUMAN EXCREMENT WAS FOUND IN THE SILT AND WATER- CONFIRMING WATER QUALITY DETERIATION. 

The claims made about raw sewage and poor water quality being somehow separate from this matter of bird deaths are simply not the case.

This is what Paul Holmes from the APHA stated (who was at the meeting) in a recently published report on avian botulism.

“Environmental changes resulting in eutrophic (with low dissolved oxygen) water conditions, linked with suitable substrate, can promote toxin production by the bacteria. For example, raised ambient temperatures, poor water quality, fluctuating water levels leading to shallow stagnant areas and warming of the soil and sediment can promote toxin production….



“In addition to permissive environmental conditions, C. botulinum also requires an energy source for growth and multiplication. Because it lacks the ability to synthesize certain essential amino acids, the bacterium requires a high protein substrate; it is essentially a “meat lover.” The most important substrates for toxin production in natural wetlands have never been identified, but there are many possibilities, including decaying organic matter or any other protein particulates. Decomposing carcasses, both vertebrate and invertebrate, are well known to support toxin production. Human activities can also increase the available substrate for toxin production in wetlands (Table 38.2). For example, wetland flooding and draining, pesticides, and other agricultural pollutants may kill aquatic life, thereby providing more substrate for toxin production. Raw sewage and rotting vegetation are other potential sources of energy.”


ACTION Raw sewage discharges into wetlands.  CONSEQUENCES OF ACTION – Nutrient enhancement resulting in “boom and bust” invertebrate populations and oxygen depletion causing deaths of aquatic and plant life.”

It is therefore clear that Severn Trent lie when they claim their raw sewage pollution has had  nothing to do with the bird deaths. The raw sewage, is an identifiable energy source, which you will recall, they cannot state for how long a period and in what quantity has gone into this lake over what time frame, from an asset which they claim they do not know the existence of. There is clear action and consequence of action demonstrated.

From my direct observations, and again, I raised it at the meeting, Smethwick Hall Park, as well as West Smethwick and Victoria Park Smethwick are infested with daphnia in the water.


“Although many substrates are suitable for botulinum toxin production, in order for a botulism outbreak to occur the toxin must be in a form that is available to birds. In some cases, decaying organic matter may be directly ingested, but in other cases there must be some means of toxin transfer from the substrate to the birds, presumably through zooplankton or invertebrate food items that inadvertently consumed toxin. Invertebrates are unaffected by the toxin and, because they feed on decaying matter, they can effectively act to concentrate toxin. Although most waterfowl will not directly consume a vertebrate carcass, they will readily ingest any maggots that fall off of it. In this way, botulism outbreaks often become self-perpetuating.”

These creatures are present in hundreds of thousands, both dead and alive. I believe that with the raw sewage conditions in this lake, THIS IS THE PROTEIN SOURCE THAT THIS BACTERIA IS THRIVING ON. There is a clear “boom and bust” life cycle being perpetuated by the conditions at this lake, which when the daphnia become infected and are swallowed by the birds are causing them to die from the “avian botulism”.


Taken at Smethwick Hall park. The small flaky white specs are daphnia in the water.

The article gives a diagrammatical representation of maggots being host carriers, but this could equally apply to the invertebrates in this lake.


A Severn Trent biologist present at the meeting remarked that there must be “nutrients” in the water to sustain these creatures- yes quite- and to perpetuate the botulism toxin thriving because of your company’s “domestic sewage” which is still present in the lake.

I firmly believe that this route is the one which has caused “avian botulism” at every site in this country, and is a route caused directly by “domestic sewage” as well as other suitable conditions making these parasites thrive as hosts of the botulinum toxin. I put out a direct challenge to The Environment Agency or any other water company to test the silt and water for human faecal matter on any lake where avian botulism has occurred, and you will find it either in the silt or water, along with an infestation of daphnia in the water passing it on in ideal conditions.

So there it is Severn Trent. You can attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes and look stupid, or you can be a responsible company and put right the misery that your network has unleashed in this part of the world. The raw sewage issue at the site has a clear causal link to the deaths of birds at the site, and it cannot be divorced. 


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