A petition to stop water companies dumping sewage into the River Evenlode has received a surge in signatures.

In the last week, more than 400 people have signed a petition calling for Thames Water to stop releasing raw sewage into the river which runs through the likes of Moreton and Chipping Norton.

The petition was launched by Doctor Lidia Arciszewska and at the time of writing has 1,146 signatures.

Dr Arciszewska said: “It is time for local action! The communities close cto the Evenlode river demand that Thames Water urgently produce and publish a timeline strategy for serious improvements to its sewerage systems infrastructure and appropriate capacity enhancements.

“They also demand that West Oxfordshire District Council embarks on the path of stringent scrutiny, that would not allow new housing developments in areas of inadequate sewer systems or in the absence of plans for their expansion.”

Thames Water own 11 sewage treatment stations that are responsible for the discharge into the Evenlode, including works in Moreton, Broadwell, Chipping Norton, Little Compton and Bledington.

Water companies are permitted to release excess water during times of heavy rainfall in order to prevent rainwater and sewage backing up into people’s homes and into the streets.

Thames Water have confirmed work is taking place at seven of the sewage works in the area, including at Moreton where the storage capacity is to increased by 2025 to help contain excess flows in wet weather.

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

“It’s our view that discharges of untreated sewage are simply unacceptable, even when they are legally permitted, and we’ll work with the government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency to accelerate work to stop them being necessary.

“We have an unprecedented amount of investment directed towards safeguarding our rivers and streams. Between 2020 and 2025 we are spending £1.25 billion on maintaining and improving our operational sites, including contributing to the health of 745km of rivers across London and the Thames Valley.

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

Furthermore, in October last year the company launched a £3 million Smarter Water Catchment Initiative aimed at protecting the Evenlode by way of creating wetlands, river restoration and natural flood management schemes.

West Oxfordshire District Council have also been contacted for comment.