Rivers: Pollution Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 20 October 2023.

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department is taking to (a) manage and (b) reduce waste pollution in rivers.

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

The Plan for Water’s comprehensive approach to transforming our water environment includes detailed policies to manage and reduce waste pollution in waterbodies, including rivers. The Plan tackles widespread sources of pollution, including storm overflows, treated wastewater, agricultural pollution, road run-off, and a ban on plastic-containing wet wipes (subject to consultation).

As part of the Plan for Water, over £2.2 billion of new, accelerated investment will be directed into vital infrastructure to improve water quality, with £1.7bn of this being used to tackle storm overflows. To improve transparency, we have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 7% in 2010 to 91% now monitored, and we will reach 100% coverage by end of this year.

Beyond this, the Government is ensuring water companies invest significantly in improving wastewater treatment. For example, the nutrient pollution provisions in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will place a new statutory duty on water and sewerage companies in England to upgrade wastewater treatment works to the highest technically achievable limits in designated areas by 2030. This will drive considerable improvement at wastewater treatment works discharging to areas of the country particularly impacted by nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

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