- Gordon Pepper thinks his condition resulted from sewage treatment in the river
A swimmer was left fighting for his life in hospital with sepsis just 48 hours after taking a dip in the allegedly polluted River Kennet.
Gordon Pepper, of Wiltshire, woke up in the sepsis ward at Great Western Hospital in Swindon after contracting an infection that he believes resulted from his swim in the river, BBC News reported.
Mr Pepper allegedly grazed his foot on gravel and ‘woke up with a dippy tummy’. He also suffered ‘serious’ vomiting and ‘had the shakes’, before his right leg became swollen and he was taken to hospital.
A sewage treatment works was reportedly upstream from where Mr Pepper paddled in the water and although he cannot prove it, he believes that contributed to his condition.
The River Kennet has long been in the limelight for sewage pollution, but Thames Water – which manages sewage treatment works on the river – says officials are ‘taking action to improve the health of rivers’ and have ‘planned investment in our sewage treatment works across the Thames Valley’.
Mr Pepper, who has lived in the Kennet valley for 11 years, was left critically ill after contracting the infection.
He claims he swam in the water just two days before he woke up in the hospital’s sepsis ward.
He remembers being rushed to hospital after feeling nauseous, vomiting, shaking and having a swollen leg.
‘I get confused because, the next thing I remember was waking up the next morning in the sepsis ward, and I didn’t know what was happening,’ he told the BBC.
The cause of Mr Pepper’s infection has not yet been revealed, but he believes it was the result of sewage pollution in the river.
Thames Water, when approached by MailOnline about Mr Pepper’s case, said: ‘It is important to remember, pollutants, animal faeces from livestock and wildlife, along with run off from farms and roads can also contribute to hazards found in watercourses.’
The water company says it is focused on improving the health of rivers and has planned investment in sewage treatment works across the Thames Valley that aims to reduce the need for ‘untreated discharges’. The plan is expected to be completed by 2025.
‘In London, we have started the £100million upgrade of Mogden sewage treatment works, which will increase capacity and reduce the number of storm discharges from the site, and we’re also spending £145million upgrading Beckton sewage works,’ a spokesperson said.
‘In addition, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a £4billion investment, is nearing completion and will capture 95 per cent of the volume of untreated sewage currently entering the tidal Thames in a typical year.
‘Stopping discharges altogether will take time and sustained investment, however each step we take on this journey is a move in the right direction.’