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Sewage: Lake District

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL3061, tabled on 13 October 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions the Environment Agency has had with water companies regarding the ending of sewage dumping in the Lake District; and when they expect to meet the target of high quality water in that area, in accordance with the Water Framework Directive.

Answered on

9 November 2021

The Environment Agency (EA) has regular discussions with United Utilities (UU), the water company which covers the North West of England, including the Lake District. The EA is working actively with UU to ensure overflows are properly controlled and to stop environment harm by overflows.

In the last Asset Management Plan (AMP) cycle (2015-2020) UU delivered a number of schemes in the Lake District to reduce nutrient inputs into Windermere and other lakes. UU also made improvements to reduce the frequency of storm spills into Lake Windermere from Glebe Road pumping station and into Lake Grasmere from Grasmere Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW). As a result, the number of storm spills from Glebe Road reduced from 157 in 2018, to 28 in 2020; and at Grasmere WWTW, from 260 in 2018 to 7 in 2020.

The EA required UU to install Event Duration Monitors (EDM) on storm overflows across Cumbria. In the current AMP period (2020-2025) UU must investigate the impact of over 50 storm overflows in Cumbria, which data has shown are spilling frequently, using the Storm Overflow Assessment Framework.

The objective for all waters in the Lake District is to achieve good ecological status. These objectives are set out in the North West river basin management plan. While some waters in the Lake District have improved, some are still below good status. All waters face increasing pressures on the wider water environment including climate change and population growth. To address these challenges, UU and EA are developing the next AMP cycle of improvements (2025 – 2030) to identify investment to improve water quality; as well as developing UU’s drainage and wastewater management plans and delivering the UU’s green recovery programme.

The Environment Bill, which will place future drainage and sewerage management plans on a statutory footing, also legislates for a package of measures to tackle storm overflows, which will help to reduce harm from sewage across all parts of the country, including in the Lake District.