30-31 March 2024 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Revealed: 31,000 sewage discharges into bathing areas last year
  • Water firms committing “environmental cover up” as one in seven sewage monitors are faulty
  • Khan quietly ditches ‘Track My Crime’ victim tool

Revealed: 31,000 sewage discharges into bathing areas last year

  • Sewage dumped average of 86 times a day last year into bathing water sites, up 47% on previous year
  • Lib Dems warn families visiting seaside over Easter bank holiday will be “horrified” that popular beaches are being ruined by rise in sewage dumping
  • Allonby in Cumbria the worst hit bathing site with 4,500 hours of sewage dumped last year

The Liberal Democrats have accused water companies of committing “environmental vandalism” after the party’s analysis has revealed that there were 31,000 sewage discharges in bathing areas last year, an increase of 47% compared to 2022.

Shockingly this amounts to sewage being dumped an average of 86 times a day into bathing water areas last year, subjecting swimmers to potential serious health risks. The Liberal Democrats warned that families visiting the seaside over the Easter Bank holiday would be horrified that popular beaches are being ruined by sewage.

The analysis looks at the amount of sewage dumped into beaches officially classified as bathing waters, meaning they should be protected from pollution. In total sewage was discharged for 228,000 hours into bathing areas across England in 2023, an increase of 80% on the previous year.

The worst bathing area for sewage dumping last year was in Allonby where United Utilities dumped over 4,500 hours worth of sewage. This was followed by Haverigg where United Utilities dumped 3,600 hours of sewage into bathing spots, then Middleton-on-sea where 3,500 hours of sewage was dumped by Southern Water.

United Utilities were also the worst offending company overall with 10,467 sewage spills over 76,259 hours dumped into bathing sites. South West Water dumped the second largest amount of sewage into bathing sites last year with 8,500 spills over 59,000 hours. This was followed by Southern Water, Wessex Water, and Thames Water respectively who were all responsible for dumping over 11,000 hours worth of sewage into bathing spots last year.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an urgent meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to review the impact of sewage spills on human health – for river and sea swimmers in particular. Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage released a report last year showing almost 2,000 people reported getting sick last year after swimming in the sea or rivers.

Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

People visiting the seaside over the Easter Bank Holiday will be horrified to know that sewage has been dumped onto our country’s popular beaches. Water companies are committing environmental vandalism and this Conservative government is letting them get away with it.

As these firms and their execs take home millions, people looking to enjoy our beautiful beaches and rivers are seeing them infested with filthy sewage.

Water companies must be laughing at us. These supposedly protected sites are nothing of the sort. Instead, this Conservative government has declared it open season for polluting firms to dump their filth into them.

This national scandal cannot be allowed to continue for a moment longer. Rishi Sunak must finally take tough action to tackle sewage dumping, including an urgent investigation by SAGE into the impact of this scandal on human health.

Water firms committing “environmental cover up” as one in seven sewage monitors are faulty

  • 15% of sewage monitors found to be faulty meaning one in seven of all monitors don’t work properly
  • A disgraceful one-third of beleaguered firm Thames Water’s sewage monitors are faulty – the next worse firm for faulty monitors had issues with 19%
  • It means the scale of the sewage scandal could be far higher than originally feared

Lib Dems have accused water companies of what amounts to an “environmental cover up” by failing to fix monitors and have called for a national environmental emergency to be declared

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found that one in seven of all sewage monitors have been found to be faulty as the party accuses water companies of an “environmental cover up” and calls for a national environmental emergency to be declared.

The number and length of sewage dumps from storm overflows is measured by Event Duration Monitors (EDMs). However, the Lib Dem analysis has revealed that water companies have installed monitors which do not work for at least 90% of the time, or have not even installed monitors at all.

Across England, there are 2,221 monitors not operating properly. The water company with the worst record on faulty sewage monitors was Thames Water which saw a staggering 33% of its sewage monitors not working properly. The next highest were Southern Water and Yorkshire Water which both recorded 18.5% of their monitors as faulty.

Some monitors have now been broken for two years. In Brancepeth, County Durham, Northumbrian Water’s sewage monitor has been recorded as broken for both years, for apparent issues with an “installation set-up/design issue”. It worked 0% of the time for the past two years. Meanwhile, Southern Water’s monitor for The Solent operated just 30% of the time last year despite being broken the previous year.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a national environmental emergency to be declared to save ecosystems at risk of collapse and protect our rivers and beaches from filthy sewage dumping.

Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson, Tim Farron MP said:

Water companies could be complicit in an environmental cover up. Why on earth would a firm install these monitors if they don’t even work?

The scale of the sewage scandal could be even larger than originally feared and Conservative Ministers are not interested in understanding the true extent of the damage our rivers and beaches are being put through.

They have let water companies off the hook at every turn and are now letting them get away with not even monitoring the amount of filthy sewage that is being dumped.

This scandal requires a national environmental emergency to be declared and for this Conservative government to start treating this issue with the focus that it needs. Their inaction has failed our environment and failed communities across the country, now worried about what damage has been done to their waterways.

Khan quietly ditches ‘Track My Crime’ victim tool

Sadiq Khan has quietly ditched a tool he promised crime victims so they could track progress on their case.

The Mayor promised the ‘Track My Crime’ tool in his 2016 manifesto, confirming it was being taken forward in answer to a question by Lib Dem Assembly Member, Caroline Pidgeon.

But Lib Dem London Mayoral Candidate Rob Blackie has now revealed that the tool is “no longer in development” and that the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is “exploring alternatives”.

Commenting, Rob Blackie said:

Once again, Sadiq Khan says he’s going to do something and fails to follow through – this time on an important tool that would help victims stay informed about progress on their case.

Why is it that whenever I submit requests for updates on Sadiq Khan’s crime announcements, I find out that next to nothing has been done? It’s the same with the Victim’s Voice Survey, with a review of BodyCam footage and almost anything to do with recruitment.

We need a mayor prepared to take crime seriously. I would make fixing the Met Police and driving through reforms my number one priority.

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This entry was posted in London, News and Press releases.


  • Steve Trevethan 1st Apr '24 - 7:54am

    Connect the pay of water company executives inversely to excreta run offs and defective monitoring gear?

    “Payment by cleanliness!” – A possible snappyish slogan?

  • Shouldn’t performance on dumping be a statutory part of the executive bonus terms?

  • David Goble 1st Apr '24 - 11:22am

    If the water companies are dumping sewage in or near bathing beaches, then surely they are endangering public health. Also, if the sewage then gets washed ashore onto the beaches, again, they are endangering public health.

    Should this not be a criminal offence? Just a thought.

  • I remember growing up just west of Durham city. When we got a car (around when I was 9 years old ) we often drove just a few miles ‘ West’ towards Frosterly, Stanhope, Middleton in Teesdale and then up towards Hexham etc and had many happy weekends plodging in rivers and being ‘ dragged’ round beautiful churches and other historical buildings.

    I am yet to become a grand parent ( eldest is just 24 ) but the fact that the plodging is now out of bounds is a disgrace, the Conservative party should be ashamed and constantly called out for the fact that even well upstream our major rivers are now sewers.

  • Steve Trevethan 1st Apr ’24 – 7:54am:
    Connect the pay of water company executives inversely to excreta run offs and defective monitoring gear?

    Such “run offs” are actually outflows from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) due to rain water overloading the sewer system. Should people’s pay vary with the weather? The issue with faulty or missing flowmeters is mostly political; prior to 2016 few were monitored at all. It’s safe to assume that Water Companies already know which CSOs are the worst sources of discharges — most have been in operation for at least 60 years.

    “Payment by cleanliness!” – A possible snappyish slogan?

    ‘Payment by Precipitation’ would be an accurate and alliterative slogan.

    CSOs are a feature of sewer systems the world over. See Steve Loftus’ highly informative ‘UK Waters Megathread’…

    Posts 1 to 10:

    Posts 11 to 21:

    Posts 15 to 24:

    [Some images of articles are missing in these ReThreads.]

    You can often see CSOs along riversides. They are usually covered by a heavy cast-iron flap. One is shown in action just over a minute into this video…

    ‘Thames Tideway Tunnel’:

    The Thames Tideway Tunnel will clean up one of London’s greatest natural assets, the iconic River Thames, protect it for generations to come and improve the quality of life for all Londoners.

  • Alex B 1st Apr ’24 – 11:17am:
    Shouldn’t performance on dumping be a statutory part of the executive bonus terms?

    The use of the word “dumping” indicates a lack of understanding of the issue (or in the case of politicians and activists an attempt to deliberately mislead). The explanation is in the name: Combined Sewage Overflow. I recommend reading Steve Loftus’s ‘UK Waters megathread’ cited in my first comment.

    Post 9 of the ‘UK Waters Megathread’:

    It’s important to note that CSO’s work much like the overflow in your sink. It’s an automatic process that’s triggered when safety limits are reached.

    There is no fat cat CEO with a “Dump Sewage” button on his desk.

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