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Sewage: Rivers

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL8145, tabled on 15 September 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of sewage discharges into watercourses in England.

Answered on

29 September 2020

As part of their planning for River Basin Management Plans the Environment Agency have assessed the impact of sewage discharges on the water environment, along with the impact from other sectors such as Agriculture. This assessment is published on gov.uk as part of the Environment Agency’s consultation on the choices and challenges associated with third cycle River Basin Planning for the Water Framework Directive which closed on 24 September 2020. The consultation can he found here:

https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/environment-and-business/challenges-and-choices/consultation

There have been a number of improvements to sewage discharges over the last 25 years. For example sewage treatment works put 60% less phosphate and 70% less ammonia into the water environment than they did in 1995. The latest data from 2019 also suggests that 36% of water bodies in England are affected by pollution from sewage discharges.

This assessment has been used to inform the investment planning undertaken by the water industry which will see more than £4bn of environmental improvements implemented by them over the next 5 years. Many of these improvements are targeted at improving river water quality to support fisheries and improved habitats for wildlife.