CONTAMINATED water was discharged into the River Loddon after pipes at a sewage works were affected by the big freeze.

Human excrement and other waste substance flowing into Basingstoke Sewage Works could not be treated properly before it discharged into the river because a blockage occurred.

Levels of ammoniacal nitrogen levels peaked at 4 mg/l, breaching the Environment Agency’s normal limit of 1mg/1.

Neil Martin, senior environment officer from the Environment Agency, said: “Fortunately, the higher than normal level of ammoniacal nitrogen going into the River Loddon only lasted for a few hours and Thames Water took prompt action to get the sewage works fully operating again.

“Staff from our fisheries team visited the river on January 9, the day after, and could not find any evidence of impact on aquatic life.”

Thames Water will not be punished because the levels did not reach the absolute upper levels. But Nigel Bell, from local conseravtion group Country Watch, believes action should be taken against the company to ensure the incident is not repeated.

Old Basing borough councillors Onnalee Cubitt and Sven Godesen also condemned the breach.

Cllr Cubitt said: “It demonstrates how tight capacity is and how little room there is.”

Cllr Godesen, speaking at a parish council meeting last week, said: “The incident indicates the sort of accidents that can happen, and obviously with more and more houses being built, such accidents could be more catastrophic.”

Thames Water press officer Rebecca Johnson said that the problem had nothing to do with issues of overcapacity.

She said: “A frozen pipe resulted in sludge re-entering the sewage works, reducing treatment and causing levels of ammonia to rise.”