Most of England’s sewage systems are overwhelmed, finds analysis

Figures on sewage overflows into rivers and seas in England show that 80 per cent of wastewater systems are regularly working over capacity

Environment



1 February 2023

Protesters against sewage discharges

Protesters demonstrate against sewage discharges in Whitstable, UK, in October 2022

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Sewage is regularly being released into rivers and seas in England in part because of ageing wastewater systems that can’t cope with modern population numbers, according to researchers.

Raw sewage was released into English rivers 375,000 times in 2021. Water firms in England are only meant to discharge raw discharge into water during unusually high rainfall when there is a risk the system may be overwhelmed and effluent could back up into people’s homes. However, a report compiled by …

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