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Raw sewage spills in England reached record high

Raw sewage discharges doubled to record levels in England last year, new research data reveals.

Data published by the Environment Agency shows there were 3.6 million hours of spills in 2023, compared with 1.8 million in the previous 12 months.

The figures shows United Utilities had the highest average number of sewage spills per storm overflow of any water company in England last year, at 45.4, followed by South West Water (43.4) and Yorkshire Water (35.9).

Anglian Water had the lowest average, at 22.2 spills per overflow.

The data reveals United Utilities recorded the highest number of sewage spills from monitored storm overflows, 97,537, followed by Yorkshire Water (77,761) and Severn Trent Water (60,253), while Welsh Water had the lowest, at 4,204 (for its overflows in England).

A total of 656,014 hours of monitored sewage spills took place at United Utilities storm overflows, the largest number for any water company in England, with South West Water in second place on 530,737 hours and Yorkshire Water third on 516,386 hours.

Welsh Water had the lowest, with 23,354 hours, for its overflows in England.

Helen Wakeham, Environment Agency Director of Water, said that the figures were “disappointing” but “sadly not surprising”.

She added: “We are pleased to see record investment from the water sector, but we know it will take time for this to be reflected in spill data – it is a complex issue that won’t be solved overnight,” she added.

“No other country has the level of monitoring we do, with 100% of storm overflows in England now fitted with a monitor.”

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