Almost 100 sewage spills in Weston leads to calls for improved water quality

Campaigners against sewage spillage on to Weston beach.

Campaigners against sewage spillage on to Weston beach. - Credit: Archant

Weston has been affected by 93 sewage spills in the past year, leading to calls for a better water quality testing regime.

An environmental report released by Surfers Against Sewage, reveals water companies are routinely discharging untreated sewage into UK waters polluting the environment, and placing people’s health at risk.

The data used to inform the report showed that in Weston alone, there were 93 reported incidents in the past year of untreated sewage being spilled.

Across the England and Wales, the report reveals that water companies were responsible for almost 3,000 raw sewage pollution incidents from licensed combined sewer overflows from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020, impacting some of the most popular bathing waters and beaches.

Surfers Against Sewage tracks these discharges with real-time data obtained from water companies and provides pollution alerts for 370 beaches through the Safer Seas Service app.

Chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, Hugo Tagholm, said: “Water companies consistently put profit before fully protecting the environment.

“This report demonstrates that rivers and the ocean are being treated like open sewers.

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“With nearly 100 untreated sewage discharges reported in Weston in just one year, it feels as though the town’s coastal waters are being routinely used as a method for disposing of sewage, instead of in the exceptional circumstances under which it is permitted.”

Campaigners are handing in an #EndSewagePollution petition to Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, digitally today (Tuesday).

They are calling for an enhanced water quality testing regime, world-leading water quality legislation, nature-based solutions to sewage pollution and investment from water companies in sewerage infastructure.

Anna Southwell, from Weston, said: “Every time we choose to go for a swim, we have to weigh up the risk to our health and decide if we are willing to take it.

“We shouldn’t be having to make such decisions, but because we love being in nature and the way it benefits our wellbeing, 95 per cent of the time we get in the water.”

The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill, which was set for its second reading in the House of Commons on November 13, has now been pushed back to January 15, 2021, due to the national lockdown.