The swimmer became unwell after taking a dip in the River Kennet in Wiltshire
A swimmer was left fighting for his life after taking a dip in a river where ‘untreated human waste’ was allegedly dumped.
Gordon Pepper woke up in the sepsis ward at Great Western Hospital in Swindon 48 hours after paddling in the River Kennet in Wiltshire.
Mr Pepper contracted an infection that he believes resulted from his swim in the river, BBC News reports.
The water quality of the river has been under scrutiny after campaigners discovered untreated sewage flowing in.
Mr Pepper, from Wiltshire, believes he became ill due to a sewage treatment works upstream from where he paddled.
He cut his foot on a piece of gravel on the river bed – before he ‘woke up with a dippy tummy’ the following morning.
He also suffered ‘serious vomiting and the shakes’, before his right leg began to swell.
‘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.
Sewage being discharged into a river (File picture: Shutterstock / aquatarkus)
Earlier this year, a school field trip to the River Kennet was ‘ruined’ after ‘untreated human waste’ began pouring into the water.
Sewage leaks from at least three different sites in the area caused waste the pollute the river – turning it visibly brown, the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald reported.
The leaks are said to happened after heavy rainfall in June.
The school children took part in an annual event organised by campaigners Action for the River Kennet (ARK).
ARK director Charlotte Hitchmough said: ‘Sewage was spilling into the river, the scale of the problem is bigger than individuals and needs to be dealt with by water companies.’
Thames Water – which is responsible for sewage treatment works on the River Kennet – said ‘taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus’.
The company has ‘planned investment’ in its sewage treatment works across Thames Valley, it added.
A Thames spokesperson 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.’
They added: ‘Stopping discharges altogether will take time and sustained investment, however each step we take on this journey is a move in the right direction.’
Three major water firms including Thames were found to have potentially dumped sewage illegally on dry days in the UK – sparking calls for an investigation.
Thames, Wessex and Southern Water released sewage on 388 occasions – for a total of 3,500 hours – throughout 2022, according to a BBC report.
Water UK, the industry body, also said the spills should be investigated.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Thames Water for comment.
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‘The next thing I remember was waking up the next morning in the sepsis ward, and I didn’t know what was happening.’