Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 114 total)
  • Sh*tstorm – dumping raw sewage in rivers
  • finephilly
    Free Member

    This has been going on for years as the penalties are just not harsh enough. I think Southern Water is the worst offender. The EA also needs to get much more pro-active in ‘kicking ass’ when people pollute rivers. the river Wye is a joke – not just because of water companies but so many chicken sheds have been built with no control over the manure (which is very high in nitrogen) – most of it leeching into the local watercourses.

    Just asked my MP why he voted against banning storm overflow dumping and he said otherwise it would roll down the streets.

    Apparantly it will cost $600bn to update all the victorian sewers to prevent this – surely there must be an easier way..?!

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    You would be nationalising a set of assets that are in poor condition, the shareholders will be laughing all the way to the bank

    Who mentioned compensation?

    kimbers
    Full Member

    Apparantly it will cost $600bn to update all the victorian sewers to prevent this – surely there must be an easier way..

    That’s the cut n paste response from tory MPs

    Not seen any costings for the £600bn figure

    But updating our water systems so they’re fit for purpose is exactly what you’d exea government to be doing!

    finephilly
    Free Member

    Total joke. Every time a piece of legislation comes around to protect the environment, it gets rejected on cost grounds. I’d rather have a clean river than a new aircraft carrier, thanks

    mc
    Free Member

    I read about this earlier, and it was quite interesting seeing the details from a Tory MP –

    I wholeheartedly share the concerns of constituents about the use of storm overflows and, as a passionate conservationist, need no convincing as to the importance of ensuring clean and healthy rivers. That is why I have for some time been leading the campaign to tackle the use of storm overflows.

    We have made significant progress this year in particular, and I will explain more about this shortly. However, I will begin by commenting on Lords’ Amendment 45 to the Environment Bill, which was voted on last night, and about which a number of constituents have contacted me.

    The Government has inserted a range of amendments to the Environment Bill to address the concerns I and other colleagues have raised about the use of storm overflows. I was pleased to vote in support of Amendment (a) to Lords Amendment 45, which passed by a margin of 265 votes for to 202 votes against.

    Concerns have been raised that section 141A, tabled by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords, was removed from Amendment 45. Section 141A sought to place a new duty on sewerage undertakers in England and Wales to demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.

    This all sounds admirable, and indeed is something I support in principle. But the trouble is that the Duke’s amendment came with no plan as to how this can be delivered and no impact assessment whatsoever.

    Some might argue that a plan is not essential, that one can be formulated afterwards. I would be sympathetic to this point of view if we were talking about a simple, inexpensive endeavour. But in eliminating storm overflows, we are talking about transforming a system which has operated since the Victorian Era, the preliminary cost of which is estimated to be anywhere between £150 billion and £650 billion.

    To put those figures in perspective, £150 billion is more than the entire schools, policing and defence budgets put together, and £650 billion is well above what has been spent combatting the Coronavirus pandemic.

    The Government’s view was that it would have been irresponsible to have inserted this section in the Bill given that it was not backed by a detailed plan and thorough impact assessment. It would have been the equivalent of signing a blank check on behalf of billpayers.

    However, I was pleased to support of the other amendments to the Environment Bill relating to storm overflows (including the rest of Amendment 45).

    One of these amendments places a legal duty on government to publish a plan by 1 September next year to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows. A separate amendment will also place a duty on government to publish a report on the ‘mechanics’ of eliminating overflows entirely (also due before 1 September next year).

    This is absolutely essential, as it will provide Parliament and the public with up-front, clear and comprehensive information on the cost and impact of eliminating storm overflows. Between the Government plan on storm overflows and the new elimination report, we will fully understand precisely how we can best tackle storm overflows.

    So while setting out lofty aspirations is all well and good, what we really need to do is the long, detailed, practical work required to understand how we can deliver on these ambitions. It is not glamorous or headline-grabbing. But it is the effective action we need to deliver for local residents.

    Please do not think that the Environment Bill only legislates for the production of plans on tackling storm overflows, however vital these no doubt are. I was pleased to support amendments to the Bill which take firm and immediate action to tackle storm overflows in the short-term. This includes:

    A new duty on water companies and the Environment Agency to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis.

    A new duty on water companies to publish near real time information (within 1 hour) of the commencement of an overflow, its location and when it ceases.

    A new duty on water companies to continuously monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of a storm overflow and of sewage disposal works.

    A new duty on water companies to produce comprehensive statutory Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans setting out how the company will manage and develop its networks, and how storm overflows will be addressed through these plans.
    Outside of the Bill, Ministers have made their expectations crystal clear in DEFRA’s draft Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat. For the first time, the Government will be telling the industry’s financial regulator that it expects water companies to take steps to “significantly reduce storm overflows”, and that it expects funding to be approved for them to do so.

    Ministers will also undertake a review of legislation which would require Sustainable Drainage Systems to be constructed to ministerial standards on new developments, reducing the pressure on the sewage system.

    All of these measures are informed by the work of the Storm Overflows Task Force, which Defra established in August 2020 to bring together key stakeholders from the water industry, environmental NGOs, regulators, and Government in order to drive progress in reducing sewage discharges. The Taskforce has agreed a goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

    I hope this information is helpful and reassures readers that any suggestion that MPs are not taking firm action on storm overflows is false. Last night Parliament voted in favour of taking a range of immediate steps to address storm overflows, together with a legal duty on government to produce detailed and costed plans for reducing and eliminating storm overflows entirely.

    Locally, I will continue to pressure Thames Water to deliver the urgent infrastructure upgrades which are required in West Oxfordshire, including the vital expansion of Witney Sewage Treatment Works. Last month I held a Water Action Day, taking leading figures at Thames Water on a tour of West Oxfordshire so they could see first-hand the problems we are experiencing and to demand urgent action. Please be assured that I will continue to drive progress until we can all enjoy clean and healthy waterways.

    I think it actually makes for a quite sensible approach, given it appears nobody is aware of the full extent of the problem, nobody has actually priced what it would cost to solve the problem, or even how to achieve it.
    It’s almost a bit like trying to get this forum to work well and run smoothly. We’d all like it, but the powers at be don’t seem to know how to achieve it…

    finephilly
    Free Member

    That’s hilarious – almost the same reply I got!
    One thing is for sure, we can’t rely on the political system to do anything about it.

    pondo
    Full Member

    I wholeheartedly share….

    …blah blah blah, bullshit bullshit bullshit, blah blah blah

    …. clean and healthy waterways.

    Despicable, two-faced shitwagons, the lot of them.

    snownrock
    Full Member

    I just wanted to reply specifically to a point near the start of this thread regarding chemical supply issues and current discharge quality dispensations. As others have suggested this should not be used as a smoke screen for the long established pollution issues. Specifically that Ferric Sulphate is only used to address phosphorus discharges in sewage treatment and has nothing to do with the storm discharges.

    Please don’t anyone be fooled that Brexit has anything to do with the sorry state of our sewage treatment infrastructure.

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    Average water bill around £390, dividend payout around £85 per household!

    gowerboy
    Full Member

    I am glad that this issue has risen to the top of the agenda but there is a colossal amount of misinformation circulating on social media about this.

    It is not a new problem. It has been happening for years and indeed in many places the number of storm spills has reduced significantly in recent years.

    People are more interested now due to the fact that the Water companies are now measuring and publishing the number duration of spills, the environmental/angling orgs are using the data and upping the pressure, there is a rise in ‘wild swimming’ and other pollution issues (eg agriculture) are increasingly impacting on water quality and so making water quality problems more obvious.

    Eliminating storm spills will be very difficult and costly. Resources for improvements have been always prioritised where the problem is greatest and where there are ‘drivers’ for improvement such as failing bathing waters or water bodies that are doing very badly in terms of the water framework directive. Many overflows have yet to be prioritised and continue spilling excessively.

    It is important to remember that the legislation only pushes for improvements in terms of the microbiological (health related) quality in places where there are designated bathing waters. That means that you could have a river which meets all the current (and fairly stringent) environmental criteria but would still represent a risk if you were to swim in it during storm conditions. In other words, it is in good ecological condition but would not meet the bathing water standards.

    The main reason for the number of storm spills is the amount of storm water and infiltration that enters the sewer. Reducing the volume of storm water in the sewer means significant re-engineering of the sewer system. This would take years and £billions

    One of the issues is that the water companies are constrained in what they can spend by OFWAT. Money for improvements comes from water bills and the amount they can charge for water is capped by the regulator and watched closely by the consumer council for water.

    In many cases that excess water originates from our houses and our private drains so we all have a part to play.

    I hope this whole kerfuffle means that more cash is released to reduce storm spills, that the regulators get more staff to do what is a very difficult and complex regulatory task.

    Yes the issue of privatisation is also relevant as are shareholder dividends and exec salaries. I would nationalise the English water companies or make them do the same as Dwr Cymru Welsh Water…. But the situation in Scotland, as far as I understand, is no better. They need more cash too.

    ferrals
    Free Member

    Re. The response from the tories- why would it be government spending to upgrade the assets of a private company?

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    Huh, Manchester is apparently the biggest shit show in England and Wales

    I’m an ex-Civil Engineer. I spent most of my career working in water and sewerage (yes sometimes literally). I did a spell with Manchester City Council before privatisation and a great deal of effort and money was being spent on replacement of Victorian sewerage infrastructure, including the removal or reconstruction of inadequate storm overflows (which unfortunately have to exist as not all the flow can be passed to Davyhulme sewage treatment works in times of storm). Bear in mind that large storm events are getting more intense and more regular.

    The “rules” put in place to enable privatisation to take place allowed the new water companies to limit repairs in order to avoid increased bills to consumers, whilst ensuring good returns to shareholders. In my view privatisation should not have happened.

    Apparantly it will cost $600bn to update all the victorian sewers to prevent this – surely there must be an easier way..

    Not really. Oh and the chemicals bit is nonsense. Storm overflow discharges to rivers are not treated anyway.

    fenlander
    Free Member

    The main reason for the number of storm spills is the amount of storm water and infiltration that enters the sewer. Reducing the volume of storm water in the sewer means significant re-engineering of the sewer system. This would take years and £billions

    Or rather, some decent and affordable catchment management, including re-wetting uplands and revegetating or reforesting slopes (both to increase absorbtion capacity and slow the release after significant rainfall) which 1) doesn’t need to cost that much (passive restoration), 2) has huge carbon benefits (both reducing the emission of dried soil and active sequestration in new vegetation) 3) biodiversity benefits (more good and complex habitats), 4) more social benefits (more varied landscapes, rewilding creates jobs).

    slowoldman
    Full Member

    @fenlander is right to some extent, catchment management would help a great deal. However there is the issue of ever increasing impermeable areas, hardstandings, roads, etc. and as I mentioned above storm intensities are increasing and becoming more regular. Semi permeable pavings and catchment tanks high up in catchments do help but at the end of the day there is a capacity problem.

    gowerboy
    Full Member

    Yes we need to change how we manage catchments for a whole range of reasons. But improved catchments will not solve the problem of high flows in foul sewers. Of more relevance would be an increase in the use sustainable urban drainage systems and the water companies know this. But whatever you do you will have to reengineer the sewers, eliminating storm, surface and groundwater inputs and dealing with the storm water separately; using SUDS where possible

    gowerboy
    Full Member

    Worth reading http://afonyddcymru.org/combined-storm-overflows-csos/

    jam-bo
    Full Member

    all this talk of ‘storm’ conditions. take a look at that map from the rivers trust.

    this is happening routinely, not just under storm conditions. take a look at your local area, I’ll bet fairly quickly you can find a CSO that discharged for 1000’s of hours in 2020.

    were there 1000’s of hours of storm conditions in 2020? (note there are only 8760hrs in a year)

    Is my river fit to play in? (arcgis.com)

    trickydisco
    Free Member

    THis person seems to suggest there’s 7 lines to the amendment

    jaminb
    Full Member

    £57 Bn in dividend payments to shareholders, but is there anyway of finding out how much the water companies have donated to the Tory party and individual politicians?

    Why else would the Conservatives unanimously vote for a watering down of the regulations when some of their constituencies are so adversely effected.

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Who mentioned compensation?

    Nationalising without compensation to shareholders will mean a massive court action the government will lose

    The answer is to stop the the blind eye the regulators have on the deterioration of asset condition, the poor decisions by directors, and to do a thorough audit of is claimed to work and demand it does or write off the value. That way they either invest or hand back the keys for free or even a cost.
    Water companies have assets that will never operate again but won’t write them off as the regulatory accounting model punishes them for it. WTAF.

    There are systematic issues, water supply; drought assets that essentially don’t work without six months of refurb as parts have been scavenged or left to rot, sewage treatment; where degritting doesn’t work so gets carried forward to the sludge and then to the anaerobic digester which it builds up in reducing treatment capacity and reduces biogas output etc etc

    And we have the completely unjoined up bit. Why are we investing millions in phosphate removal instead of removing the main source, phosphate in detergents?

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    But whatever you do you will have to reengineer the sewers, eliminating storm, surface and groundwater inputs and dealing with the storm water separately; using SUDS where possible

    This, note that a lot of storm run off isn’t a water company responsibility, highway’s, land drainage etc are outside their remit.

    A lot of issues are due to the lack of investment in keeping surface water out and the fateful decision to create/allow combined sewers. One thing people don’t understand is that premises are never disconnected from the sewer even when demolished, yet another bonkers bit of the water industry

    singletrackmind
    Full Member

    The fines (Southern water £90m ) are paid by the bill payer anyway. The shareholders might not get quite as much but it will still be huge divvys.
    New builds, new roads, more housing , more people all add load to an overloaded infrastructure
    No thought/ investement is put in sewerage when a new estate is built . Just wang in a 500mm sewer pipe to the existing. Councils get millions more council tax to spend on oaps , care , pensions etc. We get to swim in macerated shite.
    Huge break tanks or ponds are needed , filled with bullrushes , as they help to clean the water and slow the load onto the sewer plants
    The directors need to be brought to account. With personal fines, and community based punishments . I would love to see directors on £200kpa walking the beach in a high viz picking up syringes , tampons , cotton buds, wet wipes etc. Wont happen but that is what needs to happen.
    Otherwise this will simply continue. The video I linked to at Budds Farm is typical , The problem there is land. but a 1million ltr retention pool could very easily be constructed in the harbour using concrete poured into shuttering to create a bund . And it wouldnt cost 65billion ££. Then on rainy days this could be used as a brink to hold back the rain water and poo till the plant has a chance to catch up. Cost? dunno £600K for some Steel piles and a pumped concrete ,plus pile driver hire

    jaminb
    Full Member

    Singletrackmind I think you are wrong in your criticism of new build developments. Nowadays Surface Water run off rates are restricted to the sites existing run off rates or better through the use of on site surface water storage and hydorbrakes. Also the surface water discharge is not allowed to mix with the Foul water.

    Where there is insufficient existing foul capacity developers pay the Water Companies to upgrade sewers and sewage treatment plants or again store on site with controlled release at times of lower discharge rates (in the middle of the night)

    kelvin
    Full Member

    This, note that a lot of storm run off isn’t a water company responsibility, highway’s, land drainage etc are outside their remit.

    It’s always someone else’s problem. Which why it’s ultimately down to the government, either through all encompassing and enforced regulation and/or direct public control/ownership.

    ButtonMoon
    Full Member

    Meanwhile, let’s get building more houses to add to them….

    COP26 when we don’t even have the ‘basics’ sorted….

    What a shambles of a country…

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    Nationalising without compensation to shareholders will mean a massive court action the government will lose

    No one mentioned anything about compensation or what it should be

    However what was mentioned though was “the shareholders will be laughing all the way to the bank”, by you BnD.

    If a failed industry is taken public ownership because it is unable to fulfill such a basic human requirement as the disposal of urine and faecal waste in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner, then there is absolutely no way whatsoever that its shareholders should be laughing all the way to the bank.

    I know that we now live in a society where failure, massive failure, is very generously rewarded, but there is absolutely no reason why this should be simply accepted.

    Fair compensation is one thing, laughing all the way to the bank is another thing. If laws need to be changed to guarantee that the will of the electorate is respected then so be it.

    Privatisating profit whilst nationalising loss is not acceptable. Money-grubbing shareholders need to do their research if they don’t want to catch a cold, instead of relying on the nanny state to protect them.

    ButtonMoon
    Full Member

    Are .Gov /Torry donors majority share holders in these Water Companies?

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    It’s just as likely to be the Ontario teachers pension fund.

    https://www.benefitscanada.com/news/bencan/teachers-scolded-for-private-water-investments/

    Edit : In the case of serial polluter Southern Water it appears to be an Australian bank.

    https://www.gmb.org.uk/news/private-ownership-not-answer-clean-southern-water

    kelvin
    Full Member

    The bill is being changed.

    ButtonMoon
    Full Member

    Partially…..

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    My understanding is that OFWAT caps the bills for us which should not stop the water companies from borrowing money to upgrade the facilities. It’s SOP in some businesses to load on the debt whilst hollowing out the balance sheet. Have we found an industry that doesn’t think this is a good idea?

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    The fines (Southern water £90m ) are paid by the bill payer anyway.

    That £90m fine Southern Water had to pay had to come from their operating profit.

    The environment minister Rebecca Pow said the case was shocking. “This fine, the largest ever imposed on a water company, is absolutely appropriate and welcomed. It will rightly be paid solely from the company’s operating profits, rather than customer bills.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/09/southern-water-fined-90m-for-deliberately-pouring-sewage-into-sea

    Klunk
    Free Member

    igm
    Full Member

    And none said

    Brexit means brexshit

    Given the water companies are to a large extent debt funded these days (IIRC) then nationalisation should be cheap. It’s just we’d have to take in the debts.

    ferrals
    Free Member

    Sounds like the government have partially backtracked but the lords have re-inserted the whole amendment so will be interesting to see what happens. I think commons vote on Thursday.

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    No thought/ investment is put in sewerage when a new estate is built .

    As stated above there is. Water companies often object at the planning stage, place constraints etc.

    The bill is being changed.

    It shouldn’t need changing if current legislation was enforced, the hollowing out of the EA coupled with their organisational culture has led to the current position. The EA official who pushed until SW were prosecuted should get a knighthood and promotion to lead a national unit looking for the same issues elsewhere.

    For those claiming nationalising is the panacea I suggest a swim in the sea off Ayr

    https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/ayrshire/ayr-bathing-water-no-concern-24440051

    I bet that SEPA (if they are able to after the hack) are going to rate it “good” this year and then there will be four more years of “poor” otherwise it’s closed in 2022.

    Even the bathing water season is shorter in Scotland “The official bathing water season in Scotland ran from 1st June to 15 September. The 2021 season is now closed.”

    ernielynch
    Free Member

    For those claiming nationalising is the panacea……

    I have yet to see anyone make that case.

    All nationalised industries are wracked with problems, just look at the NHS.

    What definitely isn’t a panacea is privatisation. The irreconcilability of the conflicting interests of shareholders and consumers and the environment, with regards to the water industry, guarantees that.

    Murray
    Full Member

    Some good news – it may be possible to sort out the worst of the problems for a relatively small amount of money – link

    The Angling Trust said the report cites a range of lower-cost options for progressively dealing with the worst and most damaging sewage discharges ranging from £3.9bn to £62.7bn, with an impact on average water bills of between £19 and £58 a year.

    pictonroad
    Full Member

    The EA official who pushed until SW were prosecuted should get a knighthood and promotion to lead a national unit looking for the same issues elsewhere.

    Not sure on the knighthood but the 2nd part has sort of happened.

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