From the Guardian

One of the first complaints lodged with the post-Brexit environmental watchdog accuses the government and Ofwat of failing to enforce the law to stop water companies from routinely discharging raw sewage into rivers.

The office for environmental protection (OEP) is being asked to investigate why water companies have been able to continually fail to meet duties placed on them by law to treat sewage. The secretary of state for the environment, George Eustice, and the financial regulator, Ofwat, had failed to enforce the law, the complaint said.

Lawyers for Salmon and Trout Conservation lodged the complaint with the OEP, whose role is to act as an independent to hold the government and public bodies to their commitments and environmental law.

The complaint says water companies have for 30 years had a legal duty – enforceable by the secretary of state and Ofwat – to “effectually drain sewers” and “effectually deal with sewage”.

But the charity said that despite the legal framework, water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters in England more than 400,000 times in 2020, according to Environment Agency data. The spills via combined sewer overflows lasted for 3.1m hours. Yet the overflows are supposed to be used only in extreme weather to relieve pressure in the sewage system.

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Minister Rebecca Pow from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) was questioned by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee yesterday, in the fifth and penultimate evidence session of its Water Quality in Rivers inquiry.

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Yorkshire Water billed £150,000 for discharging sewage effluent

The Environment Agency has prosecuted Yorkshire Water Services Limited for illegally discharging sewage effluent into the Potter Carr Nature Reserve.

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