Ofwat: Strategic Priorities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 9th June 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:26 pm, 9th June 2022

That would be a very long answer—I could write to the hon. Lady with all the detail in the Environment Act, because the whole system is geared up to reduce the sewage going into the pipes in the first place. The clean treated water from sewage works does get released back into the water course, which is why it is important to set targets on a whole range of aspects to do with water; we are not just talking about sewage and how that gets treated. Ultimately, that water goes back into our water courses and channels, which is why it is critical to look at every angle of it and every source of pollution, not just sewage, to stop that going into the water in the first place. All the measures that we have put in place will tackle that from all sides, but I am happy to send her more info on that if she would like.

What we are doing with the storm overflows plan is a game changer that will overhaul our whole sewerage system to tackle those overflows. We heard some great criticism, if I might say so, from Daisy Cooper on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, but they voted against the amendments in the Environment Act that will improve water quality. Those amendments require the water companies to invest more in improving the infrastructure to prevent all that sewage pollution occurring, so it is a pity that they did not support them.

The hon. Lady mentioned a lot about monitoring, but she seems unaware of all the monitoring procedures and reporting procedures that are being put in place, such as the event duration monitoring, which was picked up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow. I urge the hon. Lady to look at what is being put in place, much of which is already starting. Indeed, all event duration monitoring will be in place by next year—it is happening now and it will happen increasingly. We are working on that and all the measures to make sure that it occurs. Water companies will also face strict limits on when they can use overflows, because they must eliminate the harm that any sewage discharge causes to the environment.