English water companies reveal strategy to eliminate 4 million sewage spills from rivers and coastlines.

English water companies have released a detailed strategy today to eliminate 150,000 sewage spills annually by 2030, implementing nearly 9,000 storm overflow enhancements. If endorsed by Ofwat, this initiative would constitute the most substantial storm overflow program globally, ensuring that all 14,187 overflows in England meet or surpass all government standards.

Over the next five years, water companies aim to invest over £10 billion solely in storm overflow enhancements, tripling the current investment level. By 2030, more than 150,000 spills per year would be eradicated, with this number more than doubling (325,000) by 2050. Throughout the plan’s duration, over 4 million spills into rivers and seas would be prevented.

The proposal aims to achieve a nearly two-thirds reduction in spills near bathing areas by 2030 and an almost 80% reduction by 2050. Certain regions would experience even more significant reductions: for instance, Barnstaple Bay would witness spill reductions exceeding 90% by 2030, while North Cornwall’s spills would decrease by 83%.

By 2050, several of the country’s most renowned river basins would witness a substantial decrease in storm overflow spills:

– An 85% reduction for the Solway Tweed
– An 84% reduction for the North West river basin
– A 77% reduction for the Severn
– A 75% reduction for the Humber

In another pioneering move, Water UK is unveiling an interactive map today, enabling individuals to discover the proposed actions for their local storm overflow. The map displays the outcomes of each enhancement alongside the anticipated reduction in spill numbers.

The plan incorporates numerous large new storm tanks, often constructed underground, to retain rainwater. Approximately a quarter of the enhancements would be nature-based, encompassing upgrades like wetlands and sustainable drainage schemes. These projects aim to reduce reliance on concrete-based infrastructure while providing additional advantages for habitats, communities, and wildlife.

This strategy is subject to examination and approval by regulators and the UK Government.

Water UK urges the UK Government to promptly act on its prior commitments that could expedite progress without added costs to taxpayers. These policies have been announced previously but are yet to be implemented:

– A review of the Bathing Water Regulations 2013
– Ending the automatic right of housing developers to connect to overloaded sewers
– Considering granting water companies the authority to repair defective drains on private property
– Banning the manufacture and sale of plastic wet wipes
– Utilizing fines to enhance the environment
– Evaluating the role of highway drainage as a source of environmental harm
– Considering granting water companies the right to enhance drainage systems on private property to reduce impermeable areas connected to the combined sewer network
– Evaluating granting water companies the right to discharge clean rainwater back into water bodies
– Consulting on making water companies statutory consultees on planning applications
– Ending operator self-monitoring

David Henderson, Chief Executive of Water UK, stated:

“This plan is the first of its kind globally, outlining a comprehensive and extensive program for upgrading overflows nationwide. Within just five years, it reduces annual spills into rivers and coasts by 150,000. Our plan halves spills into the most sensitive areas, such as chalk streams, and reduces spills by nearly two-thirds into bathing areas.”The regulator Ofwat must now support these transformative plans. We also urge the government to fulfill the ten commitments it has previously made, each of which is crucial for achieving further reductions in overflows.”

Source :Water UK

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