Harborough District Council leader urges government to demand transparency from water companies on sewage dumping figures

It follows the approval of a motion during a full council meeting last month
The practice is allowed during wet weather to prevent pipe networks from backing up.The practice is allowed during wet weather to prevent pipe networks from backing up.
The practice is allowed during wet weather to prevent pipe networks from backing up.

Harborough District Council leader Phil Knowles has written to environment secretary Thérèse Coffey urging ministers to confront water companies over how much raw sewage is being dumped into UK waterways.

It follows the approval of a motion during a full council meeting last month, to lobby the government to take action against the controversial practice which is permitted in the UK to prevent pipe systems backing up.

Cllr Knowles has asked ministers to demand disclosure of figures of how much untreated wastewater is entering rivers, lakes and coastlines – rather than just timelines – and for water companies to consistently monitor discharges.

In his letter, Cllr Knowles writes: “As a council we feel that we must make a stand on the issue as it is a deep concern to everyone.

“This practice is destroying the natural habitats for plants and wildlife as well as the health risks associated with the polluted waters. There has been much media interest in this recently and we are aware of the actions being taken to provide more details on the timing of the releases by water companies, both on the dates and duration of the discharges. We would like to understand more of the national impact this is having and also any specific details on the East Midlands and our area in particular.

“However, this is only part of the story, and we urge you to push for further improvements on the details to be provided by water companies and the monitoring of their actions. We would like you to consider also ensuring that the tonnage of sewage discharged is also monitored and the details released publicly.”

Environment Agency figures reported on by the Mail in spring, revealed that, across Leicestershire’s waterways, Harborough district was the fifth worse off, clocking up 479 sewage dumps - a total of 2,743 hours throughout 2022. Nearly 7,100 sewage dumping events took place across all constituencies.

At the time, Severn Trent – the main company covering Leicestershire – said it had reduced its impact by a third and that it is committed to improving river quality and monitoring 100 per cent of its waterway coverage.