How to stop the discharge of raw sewage into inland waterways

According the #EndSewagePollution Coalition, there were more than 200,000 sewage discharges into English rivers in 2019. The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill, a Private Members Bill put forward by Philip Dunne, Conservative MP for Ludlow and Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, seeks to put an end to this. It is due for its second reading in Parliament on 13 November.

If the bill is successful it would place a duty on water companies to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged directly into rivers or coastal waters. Companies would also be required to set out plans to progressively reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and to publicly report on the amount, condition, and quality of sewage discharged from CSOs or other sewer catchment assets. In addition, the new law would compel the government to investigate possible further steps to be taken by stakeholders such as the Environment Agency to improve water quality more generally. The bill, which the #EndSewagePollution Coalition helped Mr Dunne to draft, already has cross-party support from a number of MPs including Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds and the independent MP for New Forest East, Dr Julian Lewis. It is hoped that the public will urge their local MPs to support it.

You can find out how much sewage was discharged into your local river using the “Is my river fit to play in” interactive map created by The Rivers Trust.

The Rivers Trust and Surfers Against Sewage, both core members of the #EndSewagePollution Coalition, urge swimmers to use their interactive tool to find out about pollution in their local rivers and automatically generate an email to their MP, to encourage them to support the Bill.

Image: CSO with wet wipes (c) The Rivers Trust

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.