Sewage in rivers – 2021 data

On 31 March 2022, the Environment Agency issued the latest set of data for sewage and storm water discharges.

The data show that there has been no improvement in the number of discharges from CSO (Combined Sewer [or Storm] Overflows) into our rivers. Theoretically, these data are more reliable than previous versions since more CSOs now have Event Duration Monitors (EDM) which, when working, are designed to measure how much and for how long the CSO discharges into our rivers and coastlines. This makes it all the more worrying that there’s no improvement in pollution of our rivers (and coastal waters), a view shared by the Environment Agency and other NGOs. 

The EA say: 

While we welcome recent commitments from water companies to reduce their use of storm overflows, the data published today shows there is no room for complacency. They have a very long way to go.

The various water quality campaigning groups have expressed their views rather more strongly. For example, the Angling Trust says: 

Water companies are continuing to abuse our rivers with very little change in the amount of times they discharged sewage from storm overflows in the past 12 months. 

What can we do?

This is an immensely frustrating issue and the power to reduce sewage pollution lies with the water companies who will be driven by their shareholders, OFWAT, Defra, EA and, ultimately, the Government.
We all need to keep up the pressure by supporting the groups who are campaigning, such as WASP, the Angling Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, River Action and S&TC.
You can also:
- Respond to the Defra consultation on reducing sewage pollution (closes 12 May 2022).
- Keep complaining to your water company and to your MP so that they are in no doubt that this is an important issue.
- If you see a pollution incident, report it. It will be logged even if there is no action.

For more information on this topic, go to our water quality blog.

CSO Jonny comp