Raw sewage is running into rivers at thousands of sites across England and Wales harming wildlife and risking human health a report has noted.
It is unknown how much raw sewage is intentionally being released into the rivers, which is a big concern according to the WWF, who produced the report. Their analysis does suggest that more than half the sewage overflow sites do spill sewage into rivers at least once a month, and 14% at least once a week.
The WWF argues that this is far more frequently than allowed. Regulations do permit overflows at times of unusually heavy rainfalls when treatment facilities can not cope with the volume of water.
The report also states that the number of reported sewage pollution incidents, including failures at sewage treatment plants rose in 2016 …the first rise since 2012. Alarmingly only 14% of rivers in England have a good ecological rating, this reflects on sewage, farm pollution, and low water levels compared to 27% in 2010.
The danger here is that sewage pollution can cause algae blooms that starve rivers of oxygen. and kill fish. This has the added affect of being bad for kingfishers, otters, and other wildlife that depend on a healthy river. The pathogens in untreated sewage can effect human health causing gastroenteritis, septicaemia, and hepatitis A.
Further the study goes on to say that 40% of rivers in England and Wales are polluted with sewage, coming from almost 18,000 sewage overflow sites. Clearly there is a problem here.
WWF warns that without action the situation is likely to worsen due to population increases, urbanisation, and climate change. It appears that sewage overflows are being used as a tool to alleviate systemic under capacity. This suggest the sewage system is inadequate and unable to protect the environment and the people.
Since 2015, 4000 sewage overflow sites have been fitted with monitoring equipment to record the frequency and duration of spills…by March 2020 the plan is to expand this program to some 11, 500 sites.