UK Govt. May Have Broken Environmental Law On Sewage Overflows: Watchdog

"LONDON - Britain's government and water regulator may have failed to comply with environmental law over the regulation of untreated sewage releases, the country's environmental protection watchdog said on Tuesday.

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) said it believed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), regulator Ofwat and the government's Environment Agency may all have misinterpreted the law.

Water companies are facing the biggest wave of public criticism over the dumping of raw sewage and the poor quality of rivers and beaches since the industry was privatised in 1989.

The release of sewage into waterways is only supposed to happen during exceptional rainfall to stop it backing up into homes, but campaigners say water companies are discharging much more often than they should.

In 2022, water companies in England alone released raw sewage into rivers and the sea 301,091 times, an average of 825 times a day, according to data from the Environment Agency."

Kylie Maclellan and Sachin Ravikumar report for Reuters September 12, 2023.

Source: Reuters, 09/13/2023