Water UK (see below) have responded quickly to the WWF and call for a debate – well perhaps this report and the EA’s report highlighting the growth of serious pollution incidents – will prompt that debate. No wonder UK Government wants to get rid of the polluter pays and the precautionary principle!

Water UK response to WWF ‘Flushed Away’ report

WWF: ‘Britain’s bountiful rivers offer refuges for people as well as a source of food to countless natural wonders. But far too many of our rivers are polluted with sewage, and water companies and government are not doing enough to prevent it.

On Monday 16 October we released the results of a nine-month investigation into the state of rivers in England and Wales. ‘Flushed Away’ provides a river health check and reveals that, shockingly, 55% of our failing rivers are polluted with sewage. That’s about 40% of all our rivers in England and Wales. Constant discharge from outdated sewage treatment plants is the main problem. These discharges are legal but the levels of treatment are not sufficient to protect river health.

What’s more, there are over 18,000 sewer overflows across England and Wales – and about 90% of them discharge raw sewage (mixed with rainwater) directly into rivers. Overflows are supposed to happen only during extreme rainfall, to prevent sewage backing up into homes. But we found 8-14% of overflows are spilling sewage into rivers at least once a week, and between a third and a half at least once a month.

Sewage pollution causes rapid algae growth, starving the river of the oxygen that wildlife needs to survive. This affects animals like otters and kingfishers that prey on aquatic life. Regulations are clearly not good enough, and people are flushing things we shouldn’t down drains and sinks – including wet wipes, kitchen fats and sanitary products as well. These block sewers, increasing the frequency of overflows. Click here to read more

Download the report here

The Water UK response to the WWF Flushed away report is below.

“There’s a genuine debate to be had about how we as a country are going to deal with sewage and drainage issues in future in a way which protects our environment, but WWF have muddied the waters with an inaccurate picture of what is going on.


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