Sewage: Waste Disposal

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21 April 2023.

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Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the impact of sewage spillages on river water quality.

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

We have been consistently clear that the failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is totally unacceptable. That is why in August 2022, we published the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan - the most ambitious plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows in water company history.

Environment Agency data shows that 7% of waterbodies in England failed to reach Good Ecological Status because of storm overflows in 2019, a significant contribution to the 36% affected by the wider water industry. This compares to agriculture affecting 40% of water bodies and urban and transport affecting 18%.

We are committed to increasing transparency. We have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 7% in 2010 to 91% in 2022, and we will reach 100% cover by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, we launched our consultation on Continuous Water Quality Monitoring and Event Duration Monitoring. This outlines the Government’s proposals to enhance the monitoring of storm overflow and final effluent discharges.

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