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Rivers: Sewage

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 123502, tabled on 1 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to reduce sewage releases by water companies into chalk streams; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

9 December 2020

As part of its planning the Environment Agency (EA) has assessed the impact of sewage discharges on the water environment which has informed the development of the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) for the period 2020 to 2025. This programme of work is now being implemented by the water companies at a cost of over £4 billion with many of the improvements targeted at improving river water quality to support fisheries and improved habitats for wildlife. Within the programme there is work associated with sewage discharges at about 39% of the chalk stream water bodies in England. This work consists of improvement monitoring of sewage treatment works’ performance, investigations and improvements schemes. These investigations will inform further improvement work in the next investment programme (2025 to 2030).

Additionally, a new Taskforce has been established between Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, the Consumer Council for Water and Water UK to set out clear proposals to address the volumes of sewage discharged into our rivers from storm overflows. The impacts on chalk streams are being considered by the taskforce as part of the prioritisation of work on storm overflows.