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Raw sewage poured into our rivers over 400,000 times in 2020: data reveals.
Data from the Environment Agency released today (Wednesday 31st March 2021) shows that water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters in Englandmore than 400,000 times last year.
This shocking news equates to untreated sewage havingpoured into rivers and seas for a total of 3.1m hours via storm overflow pipes that are supposed to be used only in extreme weather to relieve pressure in the sewage system.
The 400,000 recorded releases in 2020 is a 37% increase on the 2019 figures of 292,864 incidents.
Stuart Singleton White, Head of Campaigns, said “These figures are alarming. They are an indictment on the lack of investment from water companies over many decades. More alarming still, these figures are likely to be an underestimate. Not all storm overflows are monitored. Many will be releasing raw sewage into our rivers without the Environment Agency even knowing. If this government wants a national infrastructure project to create jobs and “build back greener” as we come out of the pandemic, then sorting this mess out should be their top priority. Anything less will show they are not serious when it comes to cleaning up our rivers.”
With the Environment Agency experiencing funding cuts reducing their budget for monitoring and enforcement by more than half since 2010 it is far too easy for companies to get away with not prioritising investment.
Singleton-White said, “None of our rivers are classed as “good” under the water framework directive. Too many have lost theirwildlife, from plant life, toinvertebrates, to both the quantity and range of fish species. With 400,000 discharges of raw sewage last year, you can see why. Too often, our rivers are aren‘t rivers at all, they areopen sewers.”