Wild swimmers boosted by Bill to stop sewage entering rivers

15th October 2020

The Daily Telegraph (London)

October 15, 2020 Thursday, Edition 1, National Edition

By: Helena Horton

WILD swimmers have been given a boost by the chairman of the environmental audit committee as he tables a Bill to fine water companies that dis charge sewage into Britain's rivers.

Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, published his private member's Bill yesterday, which aims to tackle river pollution by giving water companies a duty to reduce pollution into waterways.

Currently, raw sewage is freely discharged into many major rivers, including the Thames, meaning wild swimmers put themselves at risk of diseases including E.coli, especially as most water companies do not fre quently declare when they have released human waste into the water.

There has been debate for some time about the state of England's rivers, which were recently classed as some of the dirtiest in Europe, with none free of pollution.

The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill places a duty on water companies to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged into rivers and other inland waters. The Bill will require companies to set out plans to reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows and proposes increasing levels of transparency, as firms will be mandated to report publicly not just on the frequency and extent of sewage discharges and any other sewer catchment assets, but also on the impact on water quality as this is enabled by advances in technology.

The Bill also proposes measures to upgrade drainage infrastructure to separate household sewage from surface water drainage, helping reduce the risk of overspills.

Mr Dunne told The Daily Telegraph that fines for pollution could rise to tens of millions of pounds depending on the severity of the breach.

He explained: "The Bill has been crafted as an amendment to the Water

Industry Act 1991 specifically so that the same enforcement powers are available as for other infringements of that Act."

The Outdoor Swimming Society and the Rivers Trust have been campaigning for some years and have lobbied the Government, arguing that the public are put at risk of disease because of water companies' actions.

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