Member News - Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Defra commits to legal duties to tackle sewage in rivers


Measures to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows will be put into law, the government confirmed today.

Details of the legislative path are yet to be confirmed but Defra said three duties will be created:

• a duty on government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows;

• a duty on government to report to Parliament on progress on implementing the plan; and

• a duty on water companies to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis.

The government added it will consult on potential options for ways to eliminate harm from storm overflows to take forward later this year. It has worked with MP for Ludlow and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), Philip Dunne, on tackling sewage in rivers following the introduction of his Private Member’s Bill in 2020. And with the multi-party Storm Overflows Taskforce, set up in September 2020, under which water companies have already committed to increase the number of overflows they will improve over the next five years. A further 800 overflows will be investigated and nearly 800 improved between 2020 and 2025.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs are a member of the Water Industry Forum. For more details on Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs including contact details, please click here.

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