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  • Sajda Jaward

Eco Friday>>>Fresh wave of sewage contamination hits Britain's beaches

Picture Credit: Sri Lanka Weekly Website

Pollution alerts are in effect for more than 100 British beaches following the dumping of untreated sewage into the sea. According to BBC, the warnings are based on information from utility companies and are posted on the Safer Seas and Rivers Service, which is maintained by the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

For instance, discharges are permitted after a lot of rain to prevent the sewage system from becoming overloaded. However, public outrage over their effects on waterways and beaches is constantly growing.

According to SAS Chief Executive Hugo Tagholm, the discharges began after the "tiniest indication" of rain. He criticized the usage of combined sewer overflows by the water corporations, which are intended to release sewage and rainwater after extremely heavy rain. "Do they think this is a joke? Do they not realise how much anger there is about their profiteering and pollution?" he said.

Caroline Lucas, a member of the Green Party, encouraged the government to "cut the crap" and hand over control of the water industry to the public during a debate. One company-Southern Water (SW)- has released untreated sewage into around 30 bathing locations during the past 24 hours, including the well-known resorts of Bognor Regis, Hastings, and Cowes. Additionally, according to SW's data, untreated water has been released 95 times since the beginning of September. Two storm drains in Stokes Bay and Southsea East were releasing water for more than 24 hours.

According to the law, these sewage spills are only permitted under "extraordinary" conditions. Southern Water issued a statement that read: "Rain can overwhelm the combined sewer and drainage system that is present in many parts of our region. To protect homes, schools, and businesses from flooding, storm overflows act as a release valve and release excess water into the sea. There are about 15,000 storm overflows in England and about 1,000 in our region.”

In comparison to Natural Resources Wales, which has three water quality warnings in effect, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency now has poor water quality warnings at 18 of its approved bathing waters.

Environment Secretary George Eustice stated during a Tuesday urgent question in the Commons, that discharges of raw sewage into waterways would be reduced by a quarter by 2025. "We've established this in law through the Environment Act, and we're the first government to place a specific mandate on water providers to prevent the harm caused by sewage discharges." he said.

According to Caroline Lucas, ministers are "moving backwards" on the matter. "We have a so-called plan that enables water firms to continue polluting until 2035 in regions with great relevance to human and ecological health and until 2050 elsewhere, which is authorizing pollution for nearly 30 years longer," she said.

If penalties are not serving as a sufficient incentive, water providers may need to be forced to make infrastructure investments. If it fails to succeed, the only option left to the government may be to revoke licenses.

It is projected that upgrading the UK's sewage and surface water network will cost at least £150 billion and maybe as much as £500 billion. Water corporations might find it difficult to digest all of this. However, a project as important as sewage treatment and drainage infrastructure ought to be a top priority for the country and a top priority for the future prime minister.

Picture Credit: Daily Express Website

September 10th 2022| 09:00 AM

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