Since the sheer mind boggling scale of the 400,000 events a year was revealed.

At the height of the row over how Conservative MPs voted against a duty for water companies to control sewage pollution, especially from CSOs, the weekend before the now notorious Government U turn. MPs were actively telling their constituents on social media that work to correct this problem could cost from £150-£650 Billion. It seems this briefing came from No 10.

Elaine Coles – Water Briefing editor elaborates: ‘The water companies themselves expressed their support via Water UK for the Duke of Wellington’s amendment and called for Government to back it – further increasing the pressure on the Government to demonstrate a shift in position. The Government was left with little alternative other than to strengthen the Bill – and do the U turn.

However, Defra has cautioned that the age of our Victorian sewerage system means a complete elimination of discharges from storm overflows would be “extremely challenging” and “initial assessments suggest it would cost over £150 billion.”    The estimate comes from the Storm Overflows Evidence Project, commissioned by the Storm Overflows Taskforce. The full research report will be published shortly.’

Emily Cooper from the  Rivers Trust says these figures are wrong and scaremongering   …..


Some MPs resisting the Lords amendment to stop sewage pollution in our rivers are referring to eye-watering numbers, claiming that we simply cannot afford to fix the problem. Others are saying we don’t need an extra clause, because this is already covered. Well, government can’t have it’s sludge cake and eat it! Either we’re going to fix it and can afford it, or not.

blog published yesterday by Defra on the Environment Bill gives an indication as to why these figures are so astronomical: ‘…Initial assessments suggest total elimination would cost more than £150 billion. This process would involve the complete separation of the sewerage systems, leading to potentially significant disruption for homes, businesses and infrastructure across the country.’But let’s be clear – the Duke of Wellington’s amendment to the Environment Bill, places a duty on water companies to ensure raw sewage is not discharged into our rivers and coasts and requires this to be done reasonably and progressively. It is not demanding an irrational fix, digging up every sewer in the country and passing costs on to consumers.

This is why not:

One in five of our combined storm overflows (that discharge a mixture of untreated household sewage and rainwater) are overflowing more than 60 times a year. These are the chronic poor performers that are operating outside of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ they were designed for. These should be prioritised in a reasonable response. The amendment does not require the ‘complete separation of the sewerage systems’. Some of it actually works already. Click here to read more

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