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Expert warns of ‘risk of disease’ in Harrow Lodge Park lake

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:38 23 October 2015

Theo Thomas from London Waterkeeper taking water samples from the inflow area at the river in Harrow Lodge Park.

Theo Thomas from London Waterkeeper taking water samples from the inflow area at the river in Harrow Lodge Park.

Vickie Flores/Archant

Water in a park lake poses “a risk of disease” an expert has warned after conducting bacteria tests.

Theo Thomas from London Waterkeeper holds samples of water he has taken from the inflow area (left) and upstream (right) at the river in Harrow Lodge Park.Theo Thomas from London Waterkeeper holds samples of water he has taken from the inflow area (left) and upstream (right) at the river in Harrow Lodge Park.

Theo Thomas, from the charity London Waterkeeper, conducted water quality tests at Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch, this week and called for Thames Water and the Environment Agency to take urgent action.

He had returned to park to follow up concerns sewage was polluting the lake.

“There is a sick mustardy oily and stinky pollution soup coming out of that drain and you can see the grey wispy sewage fungus floating around it,” he said.

“It is unacceptable for sewage to be entering a river in a park in 21st century London.”

Drain and inflow at the river in Harrow Lodge Park.Drain and inflow at the river in Harrow Lodge Park.

Mr Thomas collected samples of water next to a rain drain at the top of the park lake on Monday and tested them for e-coli, an indicator of the water’s pollution level.

The e-coli grows in colonies that appear as red and yellow dots indicating the amount of sewage bacteria in a sample.

The results revealed 10,000 colonies in 100ml of water taken in front of the drain, compared to an average of nine, five metres upstream from the drain.

He suspects water from washing machines, dishwashers or even toilets from neighbouring properties is flowing through the drain, which is meant for rain water.

Mr Thomas said: “The more human sewage is coming in, the higher the level of risk of getting diseases from the water. It could be getting diarrhoea for a couple of days to spending a few days in hospital.”

Thames Water said it is “aware there may be misconnections into the lake” and are investigating it.

A spokeswoman said: “We take these kinds of reports very seriously and we will be sending one of our own scientists to collect samples from the lake.”

A spokeswoman from the Environment Agency confirmed it had received a report of Mr Thomas’ findings on Monday morning and had passed it on to Thames Water.

Although Harrow Lodge Park has a Green Flag, the criteria does not include testing water quality because it is not bathing water.

But, Mr Thomas said he believed no one should be “complacent and negligent” when “the pollution is in a public park, where children can touch the water or paddle in it”.

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