What’s happening to our rivers?

 Watch with Welsh subtitles on Youtube

When we flush the loo, drain the kitchen sink, or when rain water drains from our streets, that wastewater enters the sewerage system where it is sent to be treated and disposed of responsibly. At least, that is the service we should be able to expect.

A number of high profile incidents have raised concerns around the discharge of untreated sewage into our rivers, streams, lakes and seas.

So what is going on? The above video gives a brief overview of what sewer overflows are and how they are affecting our rivers. You might also be interested in our Frequently Asked Questions on this topic.

What should I do if I’m concerned about a possible sewage discharge near me?

If you are concerned about a possible sewerage spill in a local body of water, you should contact the Environment Agency to report an incident.

If you are concerned about a possible sewer overflow affecting your home, business or community, you should contact your local sewerage company. As part of our End Sewer Flooding Misery campaign, we are calling for improved compensation and support for repeat victims of sewer flooding.

Letters to Ofwat and Environment Agency

On 29 November, we wrote to both Ofwat and the Environment Agency to find out more about the investigation they’re planning. In particular, how they intend to hold wastewater companies to account, how long this will take and the impact it’s likely to have on people, communities and their local environment. We also want to understand how people’s money has been used to maintain the sewerage system, and are seeking assurance that consumers will not end up footing the bill for improvements that companies should have already delivered.

We’ve made these letters public, and you can read them below. On 9th December, David Black, Interim Chief Executive at Ofwat, wrote a public letter to consumers addressing some of our questions. You can read that letter online here.

On 1 March 2022, Ofwat interim Chief Executive, David Black wrote to Chief Executives of all water companies in England, calling on them to spell out their plans for how they will reduce the damage they cause to rivers. You can view this letter here.

On 9 March 2022, Ofwat confirmed that it has opened enforcement cases against 5 sewerage companies in the latest stage of its investigation into how the industry has been managing sewage at its wastewater treatment plants.  This means the regulator has serious concerns about these companies based on the information that they submitted to it. Read Ofwat’s update

CCW is concerned by these developments as it raises doubts over whether some sewerage companies have been fulfilling their responsibilities to protect the environment. We now want to see these companies act quickly to put right any harm that has been caused. Read our full response

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