Thank you for contacting me about sewage discharges into rivers.
While undesirable and not something that anyone wants, such discharges normally only happen if very heavy rainfall leads to a massive build up of pressure within the sewerage system.
The amendments which were the subject of the recent vote that has led to much public discussion sought to ban the current process of allowing sewerage over flow into our rivers. The danger of an outright and immediate ban was felt to be that, with emergency discharges into rivers no longer an option, sewage might well back up into the streets or even people's homes.
As the MP for one of the constituencies worst affected by flooding in recent years, I can tell you that people do not want raw sewerage flooding into their homes at any time - once is more than enough!
There is no current data on how often these discharges happen. As part of the Environment Bill, amongst many other provisions dealing with this topic, there will be a requirement for water companies to start recording instances of when this happens as well as monitoring water quality.
Moreover, the Government has listened to the representations on this issue made over recent days and measures to reduce untreated sewage dumps will become part of the Environment Bill. The Government has announced that it will propose amending the Bill to place a duty on water companies to "take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows into inland and coastal waters".
Clearly, there is a pressing need for sewage discharges into rivers and other watercourses to cease altogether. The companies have a duty to plan for this, especially as aging infrastructure is replaced or renewed.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP