THAMES Water has been fined £19,000 after being blamed for a sewage spillage which resulted in the death of 1,000 ornamental fish in Passfield.

Aldershot Magistrates fined the water company the sum on Tuesday after it pleaded guilty to polluting the River Wey and lakes at the Waterside Estate.

In November last year raw sewage leaked from a Thames Water man hole cover next to the Waterside Estate and raw effluent poured into the River Wey.

Waterside, owned by Lord Sandberg, has its own Archimedes screw which picks water up from the River Wey and diverts it through WatersideÕs lakes before going back to the river.

The effluent ran into the river in front of the screws which then picked it up and dumped it into its lakes killing tens of thousands of pounds worth of fish which were wiped when it robbed them of oxygen.

These have included 80 30-year-old prize coy carp, 600 Rainbow Trout, and around 100 Japanese Carp and other coarse fish.

Almost every fish in WatersideÕs Japanese west and east lakes were killed and wildlife in its large six acre lake and its secret lake were also affected.

The Environment Agency, which brought the prosecution against Thames Water, was called in by Waterside to help re-oxygenate both the river and the lakes.

The affected lakes and river areas were drained of the sewage and contaminated silt before the lakes can be restocked.

Magistrates heard that the incident arose from a blocked foul sewer south of the estate on November 10. Thames Water cleared the blockage but by November 12 the same sewer was blocked again.

The court was told that, owning to difficulties accessing the site, the blockage of fat was not cleared that day Ð with disastrous consequences.

The blockage was eventually cleared on November 13, after it had polluted WatersideÕs lakes.

Magistrates expressed great concern over Thames WaterÕs failure to deal with the blockage quickly which could have prevented the spillage.

Environment Agency environment protection officer Tessa Vandenberghe said: ÒThis incident caused a large number of fish to die in the estateÕs ornamental ponds which are of considerable historical interest.

ÒThe pollution would not have had such a big impact if Thames Water had dealt with the blockage swiftly and effectively.Ó

As well as being fined £19,000 Thames Water has also been told to pay the Environment AgencyÕs prosecution costs of £1,050.

The company has also paid out a further £45,000 for fish restocking at Waterside, £30,000 for sewer maintenance and bridle way repairs as well as extra cash to pay for the re-oxygenation of the ponds.

The officer added: ÒIt is important for Thames Water to have plans in place for dealing with emergencies. We are glad to hear that the company now has a routine cleansing programme for this sewer and hope this will prevent a repeat of this type of incident in the future.Ó

Thames Water spokesman Andrew Boyd told The Herald that the company was sorry for the incident.

ÒObviously we would like to apologise for the fact that this happened,Ó he said.

ÒWe have taken measures aimed to prevent any reoccurrence.

ÒThere were some considerable access difficulties as it is in the middle of the countryside and we were forced to use paths and bridle ways.Ó

He also pointed out that on November 12 Environment Agency officers on site agreed that the company should return the following day to Passfield to clear the blockage owing to the access difficulties and the fact that it was getting dark.