The current failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is unacceptable and we have made clear that much more must be done to protect our rivers and tackle this issue. We will not hesitate to take further action if needed to deliver our commitments in this area.
We're the first Government to take steps to address this by setting an expectation on water companies to significantly reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows through the draft Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat. We have enshrined this expectation in legislation as a new duty in the Environment Act.
This world-leading Act includes a raft of measures to protect and restore our water environment. The following key duties have been made law:
More information on ambition and timescales will be provided during the upcoming price review period - the Government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency all have roles to play in clarifying this detail. We expect to issue guidance to water companies early in 2022. We have also been clear the statutory plan legislated for in the Environment Act is the right place to set our guiding principles to reduce harm from storm overflows and this will be consulted on in Spring 2022.
The recently published Storm Overflows Evidence Project considers a wide range of policies and scenarios to reduce storm overflows. It is right that we consider the findings carefully to achieve the maximum benefits for the environment and human health whilst minimising the impact on the public's water bills.