Last year, sewage discharged across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales more than 399,864 times, that’s over 1,000 times a day. This is likely a huge underestimation.

Northern Ireland Water admits they don’t currently have the ability to accurately record or measure when discharges occur and therefore don’t keep records. Meanwhile Lough Neagh suffers the biggest blue-green algae crisis it’s seen, due to an influx of pollution. Where we do have data, the picture being painted is bleak.

Both Hafren Dyfrdwy and Dwr Cymru breached their permits in 2022 and they discharged for a total of 613,618 hours. That’s equivalent to 25,567 continuous days of sewage discharge. Dwr Cymru is using emergency overflows (for use in catastrophic events) to release sewage. We have unearthed evidence of 24 potentially illegal discharges into Poppit Sands over the last two years.

Over the last five years in Scotland, untreated sewage has been released 58,304 times. This is from just the 161 sewage overflows (4%) that are monitored, suggesting that the discharges from the total 3,641 are likely to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Citizen science data shows that 60% of the inland bathing sites we monitored didn’t meet minimum safety requirements for water users in England. For the year ending March 2023, water companies in England paid out nearly £11 million to CEOs. Despite forgoing their bonus, two CEOs walked away with more than last year. They also paid out £1.4 billion in dividends (even more than in 2022)

In the last year across the UK, 1,924 water users reported getting ill after entering the water. 60% of reports were from “excellent” bathing waters. From the sickness reports submitted this year, a total of 1,987.5 days were taken off work. That’s the equivalent of over 5 years. But there are opportunities for those responsible to do things differently.

The 2024 general election provides an opportunity for the next government to end sewage pollution. That’s why we want all parties to adopt our End Sewage Pollution Manifesto – our five point plan to end sewage pollution:

  1. Enforce the Law
  2. Stop Pollution for Profit
  3. Prioritise high risk pollution events
  4. Empower a Nature Led Approach
  5. Reveal the Truth