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Scale of sewage discharges remains 'unacceptable' says Swim England

New figures released this week by the Environment Agency have laid bare the continued scale of sewage pollution harming the nation’s rivers.

The figures revealed that there were more than 300,000 discharges from storm overflows in 2022 – amounting to some 824 spillages every day.

And whilst this is a decrease from 2021, the Environment Agency themselves state that ‘the decrease in spills in 2022 is largely down to dry weather, not water company action.’

Heavy rainfall is frequently cited by water companies as a reason for discharges, but these latest figures come despite the fact that 2022 was a record dry year.

Swim England’s head of public affairs, Phil Brownlie, said: “We know that our rivers are not in good ecological health and these figures serve as a stark reminder of the unacceptable levels of sewage currently being pumped into our waterways.

“Urgent action is needed to improve the state of all our waters to protect these precious environments and the wildlife which call them home, as well as ensuring swimmers and other users who access these blue spaces for their physical and mental wellbeing are not risking their own health.

“We need to see quicker action to tackle these issues and classifying more inland locations as designated bathing waters could also help to act as a catalyst to drive quicker improvements.”

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