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Sewers: Infrastructure

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 65457, tabled on 28 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken to help ensure that sewerage and drainage infrastructure has capacity to manage waste sewage and drainage water.

Answered on

10 November 2021

Through the Environment Act, the Government will make statutory the requirement for sewerage undertakers to develop and publish a drainage and sewerage management plan (DWMP) to fully assess their network capacity, short- and long-term infrastructure needs and impact of their activities on the environment. This Act also contains a power of direction for the Government to direct water companies in relation to DWMP actions if they are not ambitious enough to meet our expectations and we will not hesitate to use this power if needed.

Earlier this year the Government consulted on a set of strategic priorities for the water industry, which included steps to "significantly reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows". The water industry is committed to invest £3.1 billion on improvements between 2020 and 2025 to reduce reliance on storm overflows, including projects to improve capacity as part of a £51bn investment programme across the period, including £7bn of investment in the environment. Since privatisation, water companies in England have delivered £160bn of investment, including £30 billion invested in the environment. This is equivalent to around £5 billion of investment annually and has delivered a range of benefits to customers and the environment.

We have also started a review of the case for implementing Schedule 3 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 in England. Schedule 3 was designed to set ministerial standards for the construction of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) on new developments. This would require SuDS to be built and make any surface water drainage connections to foul sewer conditional on the planning approval of the SuDS proposed. SuDS can help reduce the pressure on the sewage system by filtering out more surface water that does not necessarily need treatment and the review is due to complete by autumn 2022.