Raw sewage spills double in England’s waters

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Sewage spills into England‘s rivers and seas more than doubled last year, with 3.6 million hours of spills reported compared to 1.75 million hours in 2022, according to the Environment Agency.

This data, collected from 14,318 storm overflows, marks a 54% increase compared to 2022 and a 13% rise compared to 2020.

The uptick in spills correlates with 2023 being named the sixth wettest year on record by the Met Office.

Despite rainfall being a primary driver of overflow spills, water companies are obligated to manage storm overflows in accordance with legal standards regardless of weather conditions.

Environment Agency Director of Water Helen Wakeham said: “Whilst it is disappointing that water companies have reported an increase in sewage spills in 2023, it is sadly not surprising.

“We are pleased to see record investment from the water sector, but we know it will take time for this to be reflected in spill data – it is a complex issue that won’t be solved overnight.”

Water Minister Robbie Moore said: “I have been clear that sewage pollution in our waters is unacceptable, which is why in just the last few months we announced a consultation to ban water bosses’ bonuses when criminal breaches have occurred, quadrupled company inspections next year, fast-tracked £180 million investment to cut spills, launched a whistleblowing portal for water company workers to report breaches, and will soon set out our plans to ban wet wipes containing plastic.”

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