MPs call for investigation after BBC News report on sewage

2023-09-05 16:19:46  • 4 mins

By Esme Stallard

Climate and science reporter, BBC News

Campaigners and opposition MPs have called for action on sewage spills, following a BBC News investigation.

It suggests three major water companies illegally discharged sewage hundreds of times in 2022 on dry days.

The practice, known as "dry spilling", is banned because it can lead to higher concentrations of sewage in waterways.

The Environment Agency (EA) said it was currently conducting its largest criminal investigation into "non-compliance" by water companies.

  • BBC investigation suggests illegal sewage spills by water firms

Water companies are allowed to release sewage after it has rained, to prevent it overwhelming the system and backing up into people's homes.

But BBC News cross-referenced 2022 spill data from Thames, Southern and Wessex Water with rainfall data, to identify 3,500 hours of potential dry spills - which are illegal.

On Tuesday, water campaigner and musician Feargal Sharkey said it "provides another layer of the horror that has become the water industry in England", while Labour called for an "immediate investigation into both the breach of the licence and the environmental damage caused".

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