May 18, 2022

Image credit: The Guardian

Sewage is often deposited illegally in waterways in England and Wales

According to some information, untreated sewage is deposited illegally in rivers around the country on a regular basis. It was discovered that between 2017 and 2021, seven water companies in England and Wales released untreated sewage into rivers and the sea more than 3,000 times.

The water industry acknowledged that action was required to address the issue.

The new data comes a week after MPs warned that England’s waterways were being tainted by a “chemical concoction” of contaminants.

Raw sewage and microplastics, according to the Environmental Audit Committee, are endangering human health and the environment.

Chairman Philip Dunne MP claimed water providers’ self-monitoring had “turned a blind eye” to unpermitted sewage emissions, which he described as “unacceptably high.”

The figures, according to Peter Hammond, a retired professor of computational biology and an activist with Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, demonstrated that the water sector was ignoring the Environment Agency’s weak control.

He calculated that untreated sewage was discharged from 59 treatment plants that treat the wastewater of 4.5 million people.

In extraordinary instances, such as following heavy rainfall, water providers are permitted to release untreated sewage into rivers.

According to the report, Thames Water’s sewage treatment works in Dorking were responsible for the most unpermitted spills.

Over the last four years, untreated sewage has been released into the River Mole on 223 occasions. According to Prof. Hammond’s analysis, none of them would have been allowed under the criteria because the weather was too dry or not enough sewage had been properly handled.

Prof Hammond claims that the Environment Agency is missing thousands of illegal leaks because it isn’t scrutinising data closely enough.

“We will not hesitate to prosecute the water firms concerned and take appropriate action,” said an Environment Agency representative when there was evidence of non-compliance.

They went on to say that 1,300 storm overflows and storm tanks at waste water treatment plants had been identified as “frequently spilling,” and that a “huge investigation into possible unauthorised spills at thousands of sewage treatment plants is currently underway.”