Recently released data from the Environmental Agency shows the disgraceful performance of the nation’s water companies.
Raw sewage was dumped into rivers 824 times a day in 2022 – despite the fact most of the country was in drought for prolonged periods of the year.
Water companies say they have to discharge sewage into waterways when drains are overwhelmed by weather events such as heavy rainfall. However, recently released data from the Environment Agency (EA) reveals there were just over 300,000 sewage spills in 2022, which was a record dry year.
While the data shows a 19% reduction in the number of sewage spills – down from 372,533 in 2021 to 301,091 spills in 2022 – the EA highlights that it was still more than would have been expected as last year was so dry.
Rather than invest in updating their sewage system and securing clean water supplies, water companies have instead continued to dole out a combined total of £1bn to shareholders. These are the same companies that have continually failed to upgrade the UK’s outdated sewage infrastructure.
So how are these polluters allowed to get away with this outrageous degradation of our rivers?
One reason has to be the fact that over the last 10 years, the EA’s funding has been slashed by 70%, crippling their ability to investigate and leaving water companies free to pollute with impunity.
With almost 5,000 hours of sewage being discharged into waterways every single day, it’s time for the government actually hold the industry to account, properly funds our environmental regulators, and penalises severely those who break the law Without transparent monitoring and meaningful fitness, profiteering water companies will continue to put public health and water security at risk.