Pollution caused by sewage is mainly addressed through the implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations, which have set standards for the collection and treatment of sewage since 1994. Since privatisation, around £25 billion has been invested to reduce pollution from sewage, covering improvements in sewage treatment and in sewer overflows. In England, between 2015 and 2020 water companies are investing over £3 billion to improve their sewerage infrastructure, guided by the requirements of the Environment Agency. We have also indicated in the Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat (the economic regulator), that as part of the Price Review 2019, we expect them to challenge companies to improve planning and investment to meet the wastewater needs of current and future customers, while protecting the environment.
Since 2008, the Environment Agency has made changes to over 270 abstraction licences to prevent over 30 billion litres of water per year being removed from the environment. This is enough water to supply half a million people, with water for one year.
The Government is updating its plan for managing abstraction and will publish it shortly.