UK waters see 88% rise in sewage pollution in last 12 months - Aqua Perfecta

UK waters see 88% rise in sewage pollution in last 12 months

UK waters see 88% rise in sewage pollution in last 12 months

The amount of sewage released into UK waters has increased significantly this past year. More than 5,500 sewage discharge alerts were recorded from companies across England and Wales, with Southern Water allegedly accounting for 1,949 incidents throughout the four-month summer bathing season alone.

Back in October, Conservative MPs faced backlash for voting against a proposal which would have placed legal duties on companies to reduce discharge. In defence of the decision, MPs stated that precautions were already in action and that the new measures would have cost billions. However, after pressure from grassroots campaigns and mass social media outcry, ministers pledged to introduce stronger measures.

Sewage waste discharge has a substantial impact on aquatic life. Dr. Christian Dunn, senior lecturer in natural sciences at Bangor University, stated that: “Untreated sewage can be a death potion to our rivers and waterways. It is a cocktail of harmful viruses, bacteria and chemicals. Some of these can directly harm aquatic life and others lead to devastating disruptions in the oxygen levels of the water – risking entire ecosystems.”

Human health, however, is also at risk as pathogens that appear in sewage water can spread disease. When news of the UK’s sewage problem broke earlier this year, citizen scientists collected samples of water from eight different locations across the country. Their study revealed that six of the eight locations monitored had increased levels of E coli.

A report by campaign group Surfers Against Sewage found that between 1st October 2020 and 30th September 2021, 286 water users (including swimmers and surfers) reported being ill after entering the water – an increase of 124 reports compared to the year before.

Thankfully, the water we drink is cleaned before it reaches our taps and legal limits for pollutants in tap water are extremely strict in the UK. However, each year most water suppliers record worrying test failures, which could impact your health.

To find out more about your tap water, use our free tool to check the water quality in your area.