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April 1, 2022

Mapped: Sewage dumps and spills in England and Wales

The dumping of untreated sewage by water companies is endemic across the two countries

By Ben Walker

The illegal dumping of untreated sewage into the UK’s rivers and waterways has been exposed by a variety of broadcasters and conservation societies. In 2021, the Environment Agency launched an investigation into sewage treatment works following an admission by water companies that they could be releasing unpermitted, untreated sewage into rivers, waterways and on to coastlines.

Analysis of UK Environment Agency data for 2020, with a helpful aggregate from Top of the Poops (sic), helps us map where, by parliamentary constituency, these sewage dumps are actually happening. The data should be treated with some degree of caution, however. The very reason this scandal has arisen is, in part, because dumps have been vastly under monitored by water companies, and so these figures should be regarded as the bare minimum.

Sewage spills by parliamentary constituency
Minimum reported figures on sewage dumps and hours (2020)
Source(s): UK Environment Agency, Top of the Poops [sic]

A freedom of information request from the investigative journalism platform the Ferret revealed that Scotland is “way behind” England in the collection of data for its tackling of sewage spillages. As a consequence, Scotland has been omitted from this visualisation.

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