Sewage: Rivers

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th December 2021.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of instructing the Environment Agency to require water providers to publish their mapped sewage pollution data for areas in which they have sewage outlets in rivers or watercourses.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of requiring water providers to produce live day-to-day reporting of sewage discharges into rivers and watercourses they are responsible for.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of regulations on water providers on notifying customers of sewage discharges those companies are responsible for into rivers and watercourses.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including a Budds Farm treatment centre within the storm overflow discharge reduction plan.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Working with water companies, the Environment Agency has concluded a programme to install Event Duration Monitors (EDM) on the vast majority of storm overflows, just over 80% of overflows in England, by the end of 2020. These monitors provide a robust and consistent way of monitoring how often and for how long storm overflows are used. By the end of 2023, the remaining number will be monitored.

Our landmark Environment Act places a direct duty on Water Companies and the Environment Agency to publish this sewage discharge data, building on the commitments to openness and transparency made through the Defra led Storm Overflows taskforce. This data was published for the first time in March 2021 for data in 2020.

The Environment Act also goes further, requiring water companies to monitor both the upstream and downstream impacts of their assets and to notify of spills in near real time (within 1 hour). The government will be bringing forward implementing legislation in respect of these duties in due course. The Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan, also legislated for in the Environment Act, is due to be published in September 2022.

It will be up to individual water companies to take account of the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan and other guidance when considering specific local projects to be included as part of their business plans.

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