A ROWER was left 'disgusted' when he had to steer his boat through a 100-metre patch of suspected raw sewage in the River Weaver.

Dr Lee Jones, a scientist from Cuddington and a member of Northwich Rowing Club, takes his boat out the Weaver three times a week, covering around 35km.

At a training sessions in the week beginning Monday, June 19, Lee noticed areas of what he thinks was 'concentrated raw sewage' in the water, which he had to row through four times, as well as noticably more dead fish. 

After another session on or around Monday, June 12, his boat was left covered in a brown and oily substance, which he said was tough and ‘very unpleasant’ to remove.

Northwich Guardian: Northwich Rowing Club use the River Weaver regularly for training sessions and racesNorthwich Rowing Club use the River Weaver regularly for training sessions and races (Image: Lee Jones)

Lee said: "It was quite disgusting.

"There was an area of the river which smelled very strongly of sewage, which appeared to be highly concentrated over perhaps 100 metres of water.

"I had to row through it a total of four times during my training session, each time finding that same smelly area a bit further along the river, carried by the natural flow. 

"The week before, my boat had a coating of brown-looking, semi-solid oily and foamy material which was most unpleasant and took some effort to remove. 

“Northwich Rowing Club are naturally passionate about the River Weaver.

“We want to see it remain in a healthy and natural state, both for our benefit and for the myriad other people who walk, run, or cycle along it, or actually use the waterway in some way, like we do.”

Northwich Guardian: Dr Lee Jones - on a happier occasion - rowing on the River Weaver Dr Lee Jones - on a happier occasion - rowing on the River Weaver (Image: Lee Jones)

United Utilities (UU), the water company responsible for waste water in Cheshire, can legally dump raw sewage into the River Weaver if their systems get overloaded after storms and heavy rain.

A single UU water treatment works near Crewe, upriver of Northwich and Winsford, discharged raw sewage into the Weaver 69 time in 2022, for a total of 287 hours.

They say they’re committed to making changes, and have invested around £800m per year for the last 15 years on improving and maintaining their infrastructure.

Mike Gauterin, customer services director at United Utilities, said: “We understand that people want to see an end to the use of storm overflows, a design feature of wastewater systems across the UK and overseas for more than a hundred years.

"We are committed to making the changes so we continue to play our part in improving river health.

"We’re planning an investment programme of around £3 billion to tackle storm overflows by 2030 and we’ve been given approval to bring forward £900m now so we can start sooner and deliver other improvements to river health.”