Cross-party MPs back action on sewage discharge into rivers

A combined sewer overflow clogged with baby wipes
A combined sewer overflow clogged with baby wipes and personal hygiene detritus
Image: Surfers Against Sewage

More than 100 MPs from all parties are supporting a parliamentary bid to stop water companies discharging untreated sewage into rivers

Untreated sewage was released into English rivers more than 200,000 times in 2019, suggesting the releases have become routine and their scale excessive.

The new bill will require water companies to reduce their reliance on the use of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), which discharge untreated effluent after heavy rain.

A combined sewer overflow clogged with baby wipes
Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) clogged with baby wipes | Image: Wild Trout Trust

The Environment Agency currently relies on water companies to self-monitor their CSOs. The new bill would legally require water companies to publicly report on the number, condition, and quality of the sewage being discharged from CSOs and any other sewer catchment assets.

We have a significant number of MPs from all parties supporting the bill and 50,000 members of the public have signed a petition in support.

Philip Dunne (Con) – Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee and proponent of the new bill
A stream with a sheen of oil on it
Data reveals just 14% of English rivers are of ‘good’ ecological standard
Image: David Levene/The Guardian

According to the latest assessment by the Environment Agency, just 14% of English rivers are of good ecological standard, a rating that suggests they are as close to their natural state as possible.

The second reading of Dunne’s bill takes place on 22 January. 

Severn Trent sewage treatment works
Severn Trent sewage treatment works | Image: Severn Trent

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