New Legal Duty To Tackle Untreated Sewage Being Dumped In Rivers
Following a social media backlash and severe criticism from environmental campaigners after the government voted down an amendment to the forthcoming environmental bill, ministers have announced that a new legal duty will be imposed on water companies to help crack down on untreated sewage being dumped in waterways around the UK.
Last year, it was revealed that sewage was discharged into rivers and streams over 400,000 times, while 84 per cent of rivers and lakes in England failed to meet the government’s own ecological targets, the Independent reports.
And Southern Water came under fire earlier this year, after it emerged that it had dumped 7,400 swimming pools-worth of human waste across 17 separate sites between 2010 and 2015 – which the Environment Agency described as the biggest pollution case in 25 years.
Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard observed that it should not have needed a public outcry for the government to take the “scandal of raw sewage being discharged into our rivers seriously.
“Having spent the past few days defending their position, this screeching U-turn will do little to convince the public that the health of our rivers, rather than the health of Conservative polling, is at the forefront of ministers’ minds”.
He went on to say that the government “still has no clear plan and no grip on the issue of raw sewage being pumped into our seas and rivers”.
A spokesman from No 10 commented, saying that although the government completely agreed that it was unacceptable for water firms to dump raw sewage into waterways around the country, the amendment put forward in the Lords by the Duke of Wellington was uncosted.
The initial assessments suggested that these costs would be more than £150 billion, which would mean taxpayers would have to potentially thousands each, as a result.
Research published this year from the RSPB, the National Trust and the Rivers Trust shows that waterways around England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being devastated by raw sewage, agricultural waste and pollution from abandoned mines. Nature is now paying the price because of this, with many species now declining or even facing extinction.
The new Troubled Waters report shows that just 14 per cent of rivers in England currently meet the standards required for good ecological status, while for Wales this is the case for less than half the waterways. And in Northern Ireland, just 31 per cent are currently classified as good or high quality.
Some of the UK’s most iconic species are now being threatened because of the widespread failure to control pollution, such as salmon, the swallowtail butterfly and otters.
Do you want to find out why is water efficiency is important? Get in touch with the team here at H2o Building Services to find out more about water conservation today.