Anglers Against Pollution

Sewage pollution cover up – Angling Trust calls for transparency now

The Angling Trust has called upon the Chief Executives of all the 11 major water companies in England & Wales to come clean about the length and number of sewage spills entering the rivers from their sewerage networks.

Under the Environment Act, there is an obligation on the water industry to both fit Event Duration Monitors (EDMs) and to publish the data in real time. This enables the public to know immediately whether or not sewage pollution is occurring on their local river and to make informed choices on whether or not to enter or go near the water.

So far, only Thames Water have complied and their system went live last week. No other water company has even published a date by which they will offer the same level of transparency.

The Thames Water live map can be found here

Martin Salter, Angling Trust Head of Policy, said:

“The record of the water industry since its flawed privatisation in 1991 is little short of appalling. Cover ups have been too commonplace. The infrastructure is in a poor condition and is no longer fit for purpose. Vital investment has been blocked or choked off by the regulator OFWAT in their crusade to keep water bills low at the expense of the environment.

“In the last two years, the combined storm overflows (CSOs) have discharged raw or partially treated sewage into our rivers on 760,000 separate occasions, lasting for a total period in excess of 5.7 million hours. Only 14% of our waterbodies have achieved the Good Ecological Status required under the Water Framework Directive and the government is currently busy rolling back its own Environment Act targets less than a year after it passed it into law. The one glimmer of light was the requirement for greater transparency over sewage discharges yet even this small measure seems be running into the sand.”

The Environment Act received Royal Assent on 9th November 2021, and yet the government has still not even started to consult on the Regulations required to enact these transparency provisions.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns, added:

“We are asking each water company CEO to voluntarily commit to a date by which they will publish all information on sewage discharge events in their areas so we know where the worst problems are occurring and can ensure that sensible decisions are made on targeting investment and upgrades. The next capital expenditure round (PR24) starts on 1st April 2025 and the water industry needs to come clean on the extent and scale of the problems now. If Thames Water can do it why can’t the others?”

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