Defects in sewage spill monitoring equipment spark accusations of “environmental cover-up” by water companies | Political News



The large number of malfunctioning equipment has raised concerns that the scale of the sewage scandal is much larger than previously thought, putting further pressure on power companies and governments.

by Nick Lester, news reporter @Nicole Star

Saturday 30 March 2024 15:08, UK

Water companies have been accused of an “environmental cover-up” after new figures revealed one in seven sewage monitors used to record spills were defective.

This has increased to a third of devices facing difficulties. thames waterand is facing the risk of emergency nationalization. Increasing funding crisis.

The growing number of malfunctioning monitoring devices has raised concerns that the scale of the sewage scandal is much larger than previously thought, putting more pressure on power companies and governments.

Why is sewage flooding the roads?

This comes after separate statistics showed that dumping of untreated sewage into Britain’s rivers and seas is a problem. Last year was the worst record ever.

The amount of untreated wastewater discharged by water companies doubled from 1.8 million hours in 2022 to 3.6 million hours in 2023, according to data from the Environment Agency.

The number of individual spills also jumped 54%, from 301,000 in 2022 to 464,000 in 2023, partly due to wet weather.

Activists say pumping sewage into waterways is a sign of chronic underinvestment by water companies.

In the face of public anger over rampant pollution, companies recently made a sudden investment of £180m.

It also plans to invest £10 billion by the end of this decade, which it says will reduce the number of breaches by 150,000 a year.

Gove: Thames Water leadership ‘disgraceful’

However, an analysis by the Liberal Democratic Party found that 15% of all sewage monitoring equipment was defective, leading the party to call for a national environmental emergency to be declared.

The number and length of storm overflow sewage dumps, which act as safety valves to prevent sewage from backing up into people’s homes during storms, are measured by event duration monitors (EDMs).

However, Lib Dem’s investigation found that water companies are either installing monitors that don’t work at least 90% of the time, or not installing any equipment at all.

Across England, 2,221 monitors are not working properly.

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The Liberal Democrat study found that the water company with the worst record for failing sewage monitoring equipment was Thames Water, with 33% of its equipment not working properly.

The next highest companies were Southern Water and Yorkshire Water, with both companies recording 18.5% of their monitors being out of order.

Some devices have been broken for two years.

read more:
‘Smelly’: Sewage seeps into people’s gardens
Analysis: Why nationalizing the River Thames won’t work

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Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Tim Farron said: “Water companies may be complicit in an environmental cover-up. Why on earth would companies install these monitoring devices if they don’t even work?” Stated.

“The scale of the sewage scandal could be even bigger than initially feared, and Tory ministers have no interest in understanding the true extent of damage to our rivers and coasts.

“They’re leaving the water companies alone at every turn, and now they’re not even monitoring the amount of wastewater that’s being dumped.”

He added: “This scandal requires us to declare a national environmental emergency and for the Conservative Government to start tackling this issue with the focus it needs.

“Their inaction has destroyed our environment and destroyed communities across the country.”

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A spokesperson for industry body Water UK said: “Water companies can now ensure they monitor storm flooding across England using the full range of monitoring systems, the most comprehensive and extensive monitoring system in the world. We are working on it,” he said.

“It also operates outdoors and in all weather conditions, and some monitors may temporarily stop working during maintenance.

“The situation has improved and the regulator has gained tough new powers to ensure the highest standards.

“We are seeking regulatory approval to invest more than £10 billion over the next five years, triple the current amount, to increase sewerage capacity and remove more than 150,000 sewage spills a year by the end of this decade. ing.”

The issue has become a political battleground, with Labor pledging to ban bonuses for water company managers and the Green Party wanting water companies to be renationalised.

Michael Gove, the former environment secretary turned housing secretary, said this week that Thames Water’s leadership was “disgraceful” and insisted those responsible for the failure should “carry the can on their backs”.

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