Sewage Pollution, What are the Solutions?

On World Water Day, when we all come together to celebrate the vital role that water plays for people and the planet, the Ocean Conservation APPG examined one of the major issues affecting water quality here in the UK, Sewage Pollution.

Sewage pollution plagues UK rivers and the ocean. In 2019 there were over 200,000 discharges of untreated sewage into UK rivers and in 2020, almost 3,000 discharges into UK coastal bathing waters alone. The sheer volume of sewage and run-off entering the water means the UK is ranked just 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality and only 16% of waterways meet good ecological status.

This morning, the Ocean Conservation APPGs roundtable brought together parliamentarians from across parties with environmental NGOs Surfers Against Sewage, The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, The Rivers Trust as well as representatives from Water UK and Wessex Water for a truly cross-sectoral discussion on the solutions to sewage pollution.

The group discussed the benefits that nature-based solutions such as wetlands and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDs) can have as part of water treatment works at a fraction of the cost of traditional infrastructure. The group also highlighted the need for the adoption of new technology and methods of water quality testing, to provide a clear and honest picture of the scale of the problem.

The Rt Hon Phillip Dunne MP, chair of the Environment Audit Committee, made it clear that new and improved government policy and legislation was needed to ensure that both new technology and nature-based solutions are adopted as standard across the water industry.

The APPG concluded that a cross-sectorial approach is needed in order to tackle the issue of sewage pollution, and agreed to continue to work with and support Phillip Dunne and the principles of his Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill to ensure action is taken to #EndSewagePollution.