New bill would end sewage scandal in rivers and protect animals
On Tuesday 19th April, MPs will hear a new Sewage Discharges Bill as it is revealed that water companies are responsible for discharging raw sewage into waterways over 750,000 times over the last two years.
The new bill would ban water companies from dumping sewage into rivers and legislate to name and shame the companies found to poison animals. Under the new bill, water companies would be forced to publish quarterly figures of how many animals have been forced to swim in sewage polluted rivers.
Britain's rivers, chalk streams and coastlines have become polluted with raw sewage discharged by water companies. The result is wild swimmers being told to avoid their local lakes and toxic substances known as "forever chemicals", being detected in otters across England and Wales.
In England, only 14% of rivers meet standards for good ecological status according to the Rivers Trust, with wildlife groups also warning sewage is now the biggest risk to animals living in or near rivers. There are fears that dogs swimming in rivers will now also be poisoned by sewage.
Last year the Liberal Democrats backed changes to the government's flagship Environment Act to end sewage discharges once and for all. The Conservatives failed to pass a law which would have ended sewage discharges in the coming years.
Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson and Lake District MP Tim Farron said:
"Enough is enough. It is time to end this national scandal. I am calling on MPs to do the decent thing and save treasured animals from endless sewage dumps.
"Right now otters are being poisoned and dog walkers fear the sight of their beloved pet jumping into a local stream. This is a shameful state of affairs.
"Water companies show no signs of changing their way and the Conservatives are letting them get away with it.
"When will the Government finally wake up to this environmental disaster instead of letting water companies off the hook? Conservative Ministers cannot turn a blind eye any longer".
Notes to editors
Story first reported by The Telegraph here.
Sewage Discharges Bill
A Bill to set mandatory targets and timescales for the ending of sewage discharges into waterways and coastal areas; to make provision about the powers of Ofwat to monitor and enforce compliance with those targets and timescales; to require water companies to publish quarterly reports on the impact of sewage discharges on the natural environment, animal welfare and human health; to require the membership of water company boards to include at least one representative of an environmental group, for connected purposes.
The 'Troubled Waters' report on animals and sewage in rivers can be found here.