The information on the situation with storm overflows continues to grab the attention: this week:

The Rivers Trust – see below – have produced a map of sewage overspills in 2020

The BBC Panorama Programme has accused the water companies of illegally dumping sewage in rivers: watch the programme

The only inland bathing water has been declared to be of poor quality (Guardian)

This comes on top of last week’s news on storm overflows from the Environment Agency

Water UK respond to storm overflows

Minister Pow promises to introduce new legal duties to reduce the harm from storm overflows 

Eliminating combined sewer overflows could cost £100bn


Today The Rivers Trust launched its new map showing where raw sewage overflowed into rivers in England and Wales in 2020.

Last week the Environment Agency reported that untreated sewage was discharged 403,171 times, for over 3 million hours, across England in 2020. Dŵr Cymru (Welsh Water) has shared its 2020 data with The Rivers Trust by, showing that in Wales 104,482 spills occurred for a total of 868,307 hours.  We have combined these to provide a clear and accessible picture of the state of sewage pollution in England and Wales through our Sewage Map.  The map allows river users to see what is happening at the local level and where treated and untreated discharges occurred.

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and storm overflows (SOs) are designed to discharge untreated, diluted sewage directly into rivers and watercourses in event of extreme rainfall to prevent the flooding of homes and businesses. Whilst we estimate that 40% of them are more likely to be operating as designed with less than 20 spills a year, 40% are now shown to be operating poorly, and 20% are unmonitored, plus there are many inconsistencies in the current data. Any overflow which spills more than 60 times per year should be investigated by the Environment Agency, or 40 times if monitoring has been in place for several years.

This week’s data shows that roughly 25% of known overflows spilled more than 40 times in 2020; about 20% spilled more than 60 times; and around 8 % spilled more than 100 times.  Whilst different reporting methods mean that the data is not directly comparable between water company areas, it is broadly similar across the country and in England and Wales (where water has not been privatised).

If you spot an error on our sewage map, please tell us via 

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