The UK’s water industry has experienced a four-month delay in implementing their urgent plan to address sewage pollution.
The UK water industry’s efforts to address the urgent sewage pollution issue have been postponed for four months, with no foreseeable release date, as reported by the Guardian.
Last year, government officials requested that water company leaders provide them with a “strategy for immediate action” to address the release of untreated human waste into bodies of water.
In May of last year, Water UK, the representatives of the water industry, publicly apologized on behalf of private water companies for their large-scale disposal of sewage through storm overflows. They also pledged to promptly implement a £10 billion national plan to address these overflows.
The government and Water UK had scheduled to release the plans in late summer, following a request made in April.
Recently released records, exposed through requests made under the Freedom of Information Act by the Good Law Project, indicate that environment minister Rebecca Pow contacted water companies to request action plans that achieve a proper balance between quickness, cost-effectiveness, and feasibility. Pow requested that these plans be submitted by August 18 for public release. She also noted that some water companies had not yet provided the necessary data for their plans, despite being initially asked for it in April. As of August, Pow was still following up with water companies for the requested information.
Last May, Dr. Lucinda Gilfoyle, the leader of environmental strategy at Water UK, made a commitment to publish a national plan in the late summer that specifically addresses the use of investments to manage overflows and excessive rainwater. The aim of the plan was to decrease the occurrence of spills.
The release of the plans to address sewage issues is not expected to be made public until March, coinciding with the publication of annual overflow statistics.
Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed MP, said: “This Conservative government has wilfully turned a blind eye to corruption at the heart of the water industry and broken yet another promise.
The outcome is foul and harmful waste ruining our rural areas, and customers are burdened with increased expenses while water executives receive millions in bonuses.
The government declined to disclose the specifics of proposals that have been submitted by certain water companies, citing a greater public interest in keeping the information private. They also stated that the companies plan to make this information public in the near future and releasing it now would detract from their current efforts. The companies want to ensure that the information is complete, verified, and approved before it is made available to the public.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson stated that they had requested a specific plan of action for all storm overflows from water companies. The priority is on those that are causing significant spilling, especially in areas with bathing waters or important nature sites. The plans have been submitted and are currently being reviewed before they are made public.
A representative from Water UK stated that water and sewerage companies have presented their plans to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). These plans outline strategies to invest £11 billion from 2025 to 2030, which is more than three times the current rate, in order to reduce overflows and their resulting spills as soon as possible.