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HomeUK NewsSewage is regularly being dumped into rivers by water companies.

Sewage is regularly being dumped into rivers by water companies.

The environmental audit committee has warned the government that water companies appear to be using rivers to regularly dump untreated or partially treated sewage.

This sewage, chemicals and animal waste are choking the life out of English rivers, says a group of MP representing multiple parties.

In a contemptuous report from the parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee or EAC, England’s dirty river water is blamed on ‘chronic underinvestment’ and ‘multiple failures in governance’

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Pollution from nearby agriculture, roads, single-use plastics and sewage is contributing to a dangerous mix flowing through England’s waterways, with just 14% of river systems deemed to be in good ecological health.

The group of cross-party MP’s warned that it was complicated to understand the state of England’s rivers due to the lack of funding and outdated monitoring methods. With cuts to Environmental Agency funding obstructing pollution detection.

The Environmental Agency and the water companies should clearly and responsibly notify the public about all sewage discharges simply to stop people swimming in areas where harmful bacteria from sewage and animal slurry could be found.

The Committee chair and Conservative MP Philip Davies told Sky News: “Frankly, for the last 60 years, because our drainage and sewerage systems are all underground, out of sight, we’ve not invested in water treatment to cope with the increased investment in what’s been happening above ground.”

New housing, industrial facilities and intensive farming are to name a few of these above-ground developments.

MP Phillip also said he acknowledged the “significant improvement” around England’s beaches from industrial chemicals.

The committee would like to see one widely used stretch designated for swimming in each water company area by the year 2025.

Pressures on England’s water ways.

Animal waste and sewage cause algal blooms, these blooms sit on the surface and stay suspended in the water, cutting off oxygen to river plants and animals. In addition to plastic and chemical pollution, the health and resilience of our freshwater ecosystems are under multiple pressures.

Livestock and poultry run-off is intense, putting rivers and waterways under massive amounts of pressure. In particular, catchments, such as the water which flows into the River Wye in Herefordshire, has been dubbed England’s ‘poultry capital’.

More assertive regulation, water company investments and the potential limiting of company executive bonuses just some of the demands being made from the committee.

Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage chief executive, has said that sewer overflows act as pollution superhighways. These overflows can spew a dangerous cocktail of chemicals, pathogens, antibiotics and microplastics into incredibly sensitive habitats and blue spaces people are using more for their health and wellbeing.

He said –

“We’d challenge if current water quality testing regime is truly protecting people or wildlife,” added Mr Tagholm.

The Environment minister Rebecca Pow said the government welcomed the report, which “highlights many areas that this government is now tackling”.

She stated that the Environment Act “puts in place more protections against water pollution than ever before”.

The government has brought in some legal obligations to make the water companies reduce storm overflows which are used to discharge household waste into waterways when regular sewers become overwhelmed.

“We are delivering targeted action and practical support to farmers to reduce pollution from agriculture, doubling the budget for this approach and rolling it out across the whole of England,” she added.

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Eve Cooper
I've been writing articles and stories for as long as I can remember and in the past few years I've had the fortune of turning that love & passion for writing into my job :)

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