Sewage: Waste Disposal

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20 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 steps her Department is taking to reduce sewage discharges in Somerton and Frome constituency.

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

Last year, Government published the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan, requiring water companies to deliver their largest ever infrastructure investment - £56 billion capital investment over 25 years.

In February 2023, I asked water and sewerage companies to set an action plan on every storm overflow in England. I have also announced water companies will face higher penalties that are quicker and easier to enforce.

In Frome and Somerton, the Environment Agency (EA) are scrutinising Wessex Water’s performance and asset management on a number of fronts, including:

  • Working with Wessex Water to implement event duration monitoring to understand how often and for how long storm sewage overflows occur. This enables them to address their network performance and reduce spills.
  • Continuing to take tough action where water companies cause sewage pollution of our watercourses by incidents, whether through failing assets or poor maintenance. The EA have a number of enforcement cases against Wessex Water pending.

The EA also regulate private discharges from small-scale sewage treatment works in this rural catchment. They have a monitoring programme, and failures in discharge quality are subject to robust follow-up and, if appropriate, formal action to ensure improvements are made.

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