Sewage spills anger

After thousands of reported sewage spills and storm overflows from water companies into the county’s rivers and seas in recent years, Lincolnshire County Council is finally urging the central government to take action.

Members of the council’s Flood and Water Management Scrutiny Committee insisted during a recent meeting that such occurrences should not be deemed acceptable in this day and age, writes Local Democracy Reporter James Turner.
They agreed to write to the government, urging it to implement tighter measures on water companies to prevent further incidents.
While data for 2023 has not yet been released, Anglian Water recorded 3,420 spills in 2022 alone.
While not illegal, academics and environmental groups highlight that releasing sewage poses a significant risk to human health. In recent months, the water regulator Ofwat has mandated the company to pay back around £22 million in the form of reducing customers’ bills following a review of performance targets, specifically focusing on measures related to pollution and sewage leaks.
Coun Thomas Ashton chairman of the committee, clarified that the motion to urge the government on the topic arose following a discussion at a full council meeting in September.
He stated: “Across the chamber, there was a unanimous view that sewage, and untreated sewage, should not be discharged into our watercourses, rivers or the sea.
“Mankind has been discharging sewage into rivers for hundreds of years – it became a significant issue during the industrial revolution,” continued Coun Ashton. “We’ve come a long way since then, but there is still very clearly a long way to go. I would genuinely like to think that in 2024, it is no longer acceptable for this to be common practice.”
“Anglian Water, as with other water companies, is a private company that generates billions of pounds in profit for their shareholders every year, I don’t think it’s unreasonable, through government regulation, for those shareholders to spend a greater amount of money on preventing this from happening.”
Acknowledging that a considerable amount of planning and investment would be needed, he suggested that maybe in 20 years’ time, sewage discharges could be stopped altogether.
Matt Moore, flood partnerships manager at Anglian Water, outlined that the company would be investing more than £28 million between 2025 and 2030 on improvements to storm overflows within Lincolnshire.
However, he was challenged by Coun Kevin Clarke who asked how the company would be funding that. He confirmed that it would be predominantly led by investments from shareholders, alongside increases to people’s water bills.
Mr Moore was approached after the meeting to discuss the sewage discharges but declined to comment.

Leave a Reply