Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of The Rivers Trust:
The data on discharges from combined sewer overflows (also known as storm overflows) from 2022 is distressing. Despite a fall in the overall number of spills and an increase in monitoring coverage compared to 2021, this is attributed to the historically dry weather rather than any significant improvements in water company performance or waste water infrastructure.
We’re pleased to see that the Environment Agency has issued a robust response to the data and hope that the promised regulatory action and enforcement will happen before it’s too late to save our precious river habitats. We also want to stress to the public how important it is to use the sewage system properly – only flushing pee, poo, and paper – because the truth is you never know if that waste will be treated or whether it will end up in your local river. Anything other than pee, poo, or paper can contribute to blockages and increase the risk of discharges.
We are currently in the process of updating our Sewage Map for England and Wales, which will include new features this year, and plan to have this ready by Thursday 6th April. Data for Scotland will also be added as soon as possible. We would encourage anyone to visit that map to better understand the problem of sewage pollution.