Sewage leakage in England fell by almost a fifth last year, figures show, but the Environment Agency (EA) says this is not because of action by water companies.
According to the EA, which covers all 10 water and sewerage companies in England, 301,091 spills were recorded last year – an average of 824 per day.
The 2021 figure is 372,533 – an average of 1,020 per day.
The EA said the drop in spills last year was “largely attributable to dry weather rather than actions by water companies”.
It urges water utilities to improve maintenance, management and investment in their systems.
“We would like to see water utilities make faster progress in reducing leaks and taking action on monitoring data,” said EA executive director John Leyland.
“We want them to be able to fully understand the details of their network and to maintain and invest in it to the high standards expected by the public and demanded by regulators.”
Water utilities can only discharge stormwater overflows during periods of heavy rain and under strictly permitted conditions.
However, campaigners say they are emitting far more often than they should, including when it is not raining.
Water Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The volume of sewage discharged into our waters is unacceptable and we are taking action to ensure polluters are held accountable.
“By introducing comprehensive monitoring – up from 7 per cent in 2010 to the current widest level of 91 per cent – this government and its regulators have published sewage discharges so we can better meet this challenge. “
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To generate the EA’s data, more than 13,320 storm overflows were monitored and it was found that 3% had more than 100 overflows in a year, compared to 5% in 2021.
On average, there will be 23 spills per spill per year — compared to 29 in 2021.
About 18 percent of storm overflows did not overflow at all, compared with 13 percent the year before.
Currently, more than 9 out of 10 storm overflows provide data, up slightly from 89% in 2021. EA requires water utilities to install monitors for all storm overflows by the end of 2023.
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Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Jim McMahon MP, said: “The Conservatives’ continued green light for the 824 discharges of raw sewage into our country’s villages, towns and cities every day shows that they have no respect for British communities.
“People should be able to enjoy the places they live, work and holiday without having to worry about the Tories’ sewage scandal staining their area. Local businesses don’t have to worry about government missteps affecting tourism.”
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