Sewage dumped into English waterways 372,000 times in 2021

New data released by the Environment Agency reveals that water companies dumped sewage into English rivers, lakes, estuaries and seas 372,500 times last year, with discharges totalling 2.6 million hours.

Alarmingly, 50 per cent of sewage overflows pumped out sewage over 40 times, and one in five sewage overflows released sewage over 60 times per year.

The news comes as the government moves to reduce discharges of raw sewage through storm drain overflows, through a series of new proposals.

Much of the problem stems from England’s Victorian sewer system, which cannot cope with modern demand and the impacts of climate change. To help prevent drains from overflowing, untreated sewage is pumped into waterways after heavy rain and storms,

The government’s new proposals come after pressure put in place by campaigners such as Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), who have called the sewage discharge “ecological vandalism at a shameless scale.”

The government’s plan would see water companies in England forced to meet targets that would cut down the impact of their storm overflows, particularly on the most ecologically important sites, by 2035.

In March, Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent, told The Telegraph that ending sewage pollution ‘was not on their customers’ priority list’ and that the issue had not risen to public consciousness until 2020. It has emerged that Severn Trent is among the worst-polluting water companies.

Commenting on the EA data release, Hugo Tagholm, CEO at Surfers Against Sewage says: “Millions of hours of untreated sewage are destroying our waterways and yet water company bosses have the gall to say ‘but this wasn’t on our customers’ priority list’. Water company CEOs and their hedge fund shareholders are creaming off extortionate profits whilst we all are left choking on their sewage pollution that’s making us, and our environment, sick. We will not allow polluters to kick this into the long grass any longer. We demand that water companies reinvest their profits into restoring our blue spaces for nature and people.”

A series of 11 protests are taking place on 23 April across the UK, calling for the end of sewage pollution.

Amy Slack, head of campaigns and policy at SAS, says: “This wilful destruction of the UK’s rivers and seas will not simply be washed away with tomorrow’s news cycle. People across the UK demand an end to sewage pollution and will be coming together in mass protest on 23rd April – we urge everyone who cares for our rivers and seas to join us in telling the profiteering polluters of the water industry just what we think of them.”

One response to “Sewage dumped into English waterways 372,000 times in 2021”

  1. David Walton says:

    How dare Liv Garfield of Severn-Trent claim that their polluting habits are not high up on their customers’ priority list! Most of us had no idea how bad the pollution was and we (foolishly) thought that our water company would be environmentally & socially conscientious enough to do something about it. Shame on Severn-Trent & the whole industry for the state we’re in