Updated 26th October 2020
A few weeks ago, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP for Ludlow published his Private Member’s Bill designed to #EndSewagePollution and improve water quality in our rivers. Now, as the Bill approaches Parliament on 13th November, it's time for you to #PipeUp!
In 2019, raw sewage was discharged into rivers across England and Wales for over 1.5 million hours, compromising these vital habitats for wildlife and endangering the health of people who use our rivers for recreation.
Philip Dunne MP, who is also chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:
Our rivers are a vital part of our natural heritage. It is right the Government has committed to restoring at least three quarters of our waters to their natural state.– Philip Dunne MP
But it is clear from last week’s latest assessment from the Environment Agency that we are a long way from achieving that, with fewer than one in six of our rivers in good health. This threatens the aquatic life and iconic species that rely on these precious habitats, such as freshwater fish, kingfishers, otters and dippers.
The discharge of untreated sewage is a major part of the problem, entering our rivers from the very treatment works whose purpose is to clean it up. Our regulations and investment have not kept pace with changes in behaviour and pressure from development, so now pollutants enter our rivers untreated, with the perpetrators licensed to spill.– Philip Dunne MP
"This poses a significant health risk to those who wish to enjoy our rivers for leisure and recreation.
"The River Severn and its tributaries the Clun, Corve, Kemp, Onny, Rea, Teme and Worfe all flow through my constituency. They are nothing like as healthy as when I was a child, but they should be.
"That is why I have brought forward this Bill, which aims to cut discharges of raw sewage into our rivers - protecting our precious habitats for wildlife and people to enjoy.”
The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill places a duty on water companies to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged into rivers and other inland waters. The Bill will require water companies to set out plans progressively to reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows (CSOs). It proposes increasing levels of transparency, as firms will be mandated to report publicly not just on the frequency and extent of sewage discharges from CSOs and any other sewer catchment assets, but also on the impact on water quality as this is enabled by advances in technology.
The Bill also proposes measures to upgrade drainage infrastructure to separate household sewage from surface water drainage, helping reduce the risk of overspills. It includes measures to reduce harmful products such as non-biodegradable wet wipes, commercial fats and oils from being disposed down the drains. It also proposes measures to expand the number of inland bathing waters and establish targets to increase those classified as “good” or “excellent”.
The Bill has widespread support from environmental charities and NGOs including, the Rivers Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and the Wildlife Trust.
The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill will have its 2nd reading in Parliament on November 13th where MPs will have an opportunity to debate the bill and show their support for action to #EndSewagePollution.
And don't forget to tweet about #EndSewagePollution and the #SewageBill to help spread the word.