Sewage in our rivers.

nottskev

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Now that we are being told that dealing with a pandemic is a matter of "personal responsibility" rather than policy and legislation, it may not be long before we are earnestly exhorted to dispose of our own sewage. When this happens, please do so responsibly.
 

markg

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Exactly Mike, it's a different kettle of fish now, a lot will change in this country. I see this as one of the positives. MP's will have to be a lot less complacent now, the electorate are going to be a lot more focused on what they do.
 

markg

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This is the reply to my email asking my MP to explain why he/she voted for the sewage bill. Names have been removed. Good Luck...


Thank you for your email to -------- Please see ---- response to you on this issue below.

"A number of constituents have contacted me about the Lords Amendment to the Environment Bill regarding storm overflows.

I, along with many of my colleagues, have consistently raised the issue of storm overflows and sewage leaking with Defra minister, Rebecca Pow, and I supported Philip Dunne’s Private Members’ Bill, which would place a duty on sewerage undertakers to take all reasonable steps to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows.

I would like to explain why I voted against the Lords amendment as drafted, as this is a complex issue. I voted in support of Amendment (a) to Lords Amendment 45, but s141A was removed from Amendment 45 – which 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, which I, of course, support in principle – to eliminate all untreated sewage overflow is what we all want to see. However, the Amendment did not include an impact assessment nor was there a plan as to how eliminating sewage overflows can be delivered. To eliminate storm overflows means transforming the entire Victorian sewage system to a whole new sewage system. It would be irresponsible for any Government to spend an estimated preliminary cost of anywhere between £150 to £650 billion to transform the entire sewage system. This is a huge amount to spend in an ordinary time, let alone at a time of a continuing health pandemic. To give some perspective, £150 billion is more than the entire schools, policing and defence budget put together and £650 billion is billions more than we have spent on supporting livelihoods and jobs throughout the health pandemic.


I am pleased that the Government did insert a range of other amendments to the Environment Bill to address my and my colleagues concerns with regard to storm overflows.
• Minister Pow confirmed to me that the Government has moved considerably on this matter, more than any other matter in the Bill, and is confident the existing provisions will achieve progressive reductions in the harm caused by storm overflows, underpinned by the new direction to Ofwat in the Government’s draft Strategic Policy Statement that the Government expects Ofwat to incentivise water companies to significantly reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows.
• The Bill also now requires the Government to produce a statutory plan to reduce discharges, and report to Parliament on progress.
• The Environment Agency and water companies are now required to publish annual information on discharges, and water companies are to provide near real time overflow data (within 1 hour) of the commencement of an overflow, its location and when it ceases. In addition, water companies will now be required to continuously monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of an overflow and of sewage disposal works, as well as to produce comprehensive statutory plans (drainage and Sewerage Management Plans) for the resilience of their wastewater networks.
• The Government will also be required to publish a report considering the costs and benefits of eliminating flows entirely before 1 September 2022, which will inform Government decision-making and explaining the actions needed to eliminate storm overflows. I believe this to be essential as it will provide Parliament and the public with comprehensive information on the cost and impact of eliminating overflows – we will then fully understand how best we can tackle storm overflows.

I also welcome an additional measure that the Government will undertake a review of legislation which would require Sustainable Drainage Systems to be constructed to ministerial standards on new developments, which would reduce the pressure on the sewage system.

To respond to the Lords’ concern regarding the independence of the new Environment watchdog, in particular the powers ministers have to issue guidance to the Office for Environmental Protection on how to fulfil its function in holding the Government to account, the Government has brought in a further safeguard requiring greater Parliamentary scrutiny of any guidance issued to the OEP.

I hope I have reassured constituents that any suggestion that I and other MPs are not taking firm action on storm overflows is false. I voted in favour of a range of measures to take immediate steps to address storm overflows, together with a legal duty on the Government to produce detailed and, importantly, costed plans for reducing and eliminating storm overflows. I satisfied that the measures proposed by the Government and voted upon, in response to the concerns that I and many MPs have raised, will achieve the required outcome – of eliminating untreated sewage discharges in our rivers and along our coastline."


Kind regards,
-----------
 

markg

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The problem is not just storm overflows it the daily dumping of sewage into the environment.
II don't know I have not read all of it yet, got bored about half way through. maybe Peter J will understand it more than me. He is good at disecting this kind of thing. I will think of some appropriate response once I understand it better. I just thought it would be interesting to see.
 

fishface1

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My Tory MP actually voted to stop this practice last time and I am assured will do so again.
Did he/she?

My good ol' boy certainly didn't.

However, the whole subject is actually a bit more nuanced than people seem to be suggesting.

If you think about it, it is almost impossible not to discharge "raw" sewage into rivers in certain circumstances.

Unless you want to see the whole of our drainage system dug up and redesigned, there will always be a significant amount of rainfall that enters the sewer. Once there, it will get to the sewage works and potentially inundate the treatment process.

The release of adequately screened and diluted sewage, into a receiving water carrying sufficient water to further dilute organic inputs would have little to no impact on water quality.

The issue is that it is happening too frequently, and due to reasons other than excessive flows - ie lack of investment causing pump failures etc

But without returns for investors, who'd going to put their money in to sewage?

Time for re-nationalisation? Or is the money tree running out?
 

dorsetsteve

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Here’s a radical thought, how about we legislate properly and hand out proper fines when they fall short to ensure that failure isn’t a reasonable option.
If there’s money in the pot to pay shareholders, there’s money in the pot to invest in your infrastructure adequately enough to adhere to government legislation.
 

Molehill

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It is interesting that this whole furore focuses on government, sewage and water companies and not a single comment on our own habits and how we treat the waste water system.
Is there a single good reason why wet wipes, condoms, sanitary products float down rivers or into the sea? Other than we put them in the system. Take a look under our sinks, in bathrooms and cleaning cupboards at the array of chemicals we use on a daily basis and without thought rinse away into that system, consider the environmental damage these chemicals must do wherever they are discharged.
I'm 100% as guilty as everyone else at abusing the sewage system by flushing away whatever we use on a daily basis, "chuck some bleach down the sink, out of sight and out of mind once it's flushed away".
We do need to amend our own habits as well when pointing the finger at others for the condition of our rivers and waterways.
 

Peter Jacobs

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Mark,

That reply was typical political double Speke deliberately omitting the real reason why Tory MPs voted against the amendments from the Lords being namely that it was a three line whip voted demanded by the government.
That makes those Tory MPs who declined the government instruction liable to action from the PM.
It is nice to see these days at least some who have the testicular fortitude to vote on what is best for the country.
 

maceo

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It's good to see that the uproar of protest about this has seemingly forced a U-turn from the govt. The bill looks like it'll be tightened up at least, to try to put more requirements on the water companies to at least reduce the practice.

Privatisation of the water companies has proved a disaster, as indeed it has in just about every other area - see the renationalisation of probation services, railway companies etc. They complain about the high cost of renovating the infrastructure, but that £57bn paid in dividends would have gone a long way towards it. And if we're not going to renovate on the grounds of cost, then what is the plan? To leave it getting older, more decrepit and unsuited to modern demands forever?

It seems to me that the first step that ought to be taken in order to effectively tackle the problem is to renationalise the water companies and develop some sort of national plan for the future.

Although I understand the debate about the impact of Brexit on legislation regarding these discharges, I would avoid conflating that issue with that of sewage discharges. Otherwise things seems to quickly descend into arguments about the merits, or otherwise, of leaving the EU rather than discussing how to tackle the problem at hand for the future. It also risks some passionate supporters of either side adopting foolish positions of being 'in favour' of 'freedoms' to tip sewage into rivers as part of their general pro or anti brexit stance.
 

markg

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Mark,

That reply was typical political double Speke deliberately omitting the real reason why Tory MPs voted against the amendments from the Lords being namely that it was a three line whip voted demanded by the government.
That makes those Tory MPs who declined the government instruction liable to action from the PM.
It is nice to see these days at least some who have the testicular fortitude to vote on what is best for the country.
It looks all smokes screens and mirrors, I said that is what I expected, at least some things don't change. I will consider my response once I have read it through with a bit more diligence. Nice term by the way, testicular fortitude. I still have some, the surgeons have not gone that far, yet; fingers crossed.
 
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steve2

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Still waiting for an answer from MP. I got a standard answer that the email had been received.
 

mikench

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We all recognise global warning as a threat, that our Victorian infrastructure which lead the world no longer does so and that we need to do something. Let us revert to some hypothecation of taxes for the purposes highlighted about i.e. Renationalise our vital services, improve infrastructure and employ more people in proper jobs. A Climate change tax of £50 per person per annum would be a start. All companies over a certain size and who contribute to pollution and global warming would have to pay 250, 000 pa. It would be carefully audited and published so as not to be spent on defective ppe, covid testing apps not fit for purpose and a myriad other wanton acts of profligacy and corruption and we the taxpayers could judge the government on their progress.
 

rob48

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Privatisation of the water companies has proved a disaster, as indeed it has in just about every other area - see the renationalisation of probation services, railway companies etc. They complain about the high cost of renovating the infrastructure, but that £57bn paid in dividends would have gone a long way towards it. And if we're not going to renovate on the grounds of cost, then what is the plan? To leave it getting older, more decrepit and unsuited to modern demands forever?
Until the companies were privatised there was no reliably accurate knowledge or hard data on the magnitude, condition, or even extent of the national drainage network, including the number of CSOs, their design and style of operation, or their springing criteria.
 

The bad one

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What we are talking about here is how we, Society, deal with our Sh1t! And how it has evolved over last 300 years or so. A little history lesson of the commercialisation of sh1t moving. Sh1t (human) believe it or not, was 300 years ago and up to a point now is very valuable.

The night soil men of old dug out the human dung from the privy carted it away in a horse and cart during the hours of darkness and sold it to the local farmers to spread on the land as fertiliser.
Proving the old adage, "Where there’s Muck, there’s Brass!”

This process of usage continued and could be described as a closed loop sustainable system – you eat - you shit - it gets moved back onto the land to fertilise it - which grows crops to perpetuate the system again.

The system with some tinkering continued up and until the take off of the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian Age. This age marshalled in a plethora of Public Health initiatives primarily because people were now living in very close proximity to each other in their 1000s, causing illness, disease and death to run rampant. Colah being one of the worst killers through human faeces just being thrown or drained right into the streets contaminating the available drinking water supplies. We’ve all seen the period dramas of the Piss Pots being just thrown from the upper windows into the street below.

The Victorian fathers recognising through increased and growing knowledge of how illnesses etc spread through the population realising they needed to do something to stop the impacts on the ever-growing population. That something was to create the Sewage System below ground, much of which is still with us today.

The systems they created where and still are in most cases combined sewers. Combined meaning they took domestic, industrial and rainwater in the same pipes to the same place. The same place in the early days being the local river. The hiatus of what they had done wrong was what is known as the Thames Stink and why MPs have summer recess. The smell of the river was that bad and nauseating they vote not to sit during high summer. Being MPs, they failed to return to sitting when the stink was irradicated.

They then included rudimentary sewage works to treat the water before it was released into the river. As most rivers that ran through major conurbations mirrored what was happening on the Thames, sewage works were created in and around those conurbations. A mention here should be made that at the same time as these “improvement” to the sewage system were being done, so to was the supply of clean water for drink, cooking etc and the creation of reservoirs to hold the water needed for the growing populations of the UK.

The creation of sewage treatment and disposal was a double-edged sword in the sense it broke the closed loop of the preindustrial revolution. It introduced vast volumes of water into the system via flush toilets, where prior to it the only water in the system was possibly urine. Which in itself was a valuable commodity, as it was used in the tanning industry and was collected and sold to that industry. The introduction of water into the system and running it into the rivers killed off much of the life in rivers around the conurbations, a legacy we lived with until the 1980s when the river systems biologically started to improve. The reverse of which has been happening since around 2010.

In creating this wholly water bases system of a combined sewers we have made it very difficult to get on top of river pollution for these two reasons.

The water has to be got rid of somewhere and given the volume it the rivers and sea were the only option. Contained within that water are chemicals that can’t be taken out and are lethal or sublethal to aquatic life.

We must move away from the water bases sewage system. Whilst it is true, in a small way we have started to move away from some water going down the pipes to the sewage treatment works (STWs) by making every new houses built use what is called SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) for rainwater. Effectively, the rainwater runs to soak-a-way either in a purpose built pond on a housing estate or around the house and into the ground. It may be a sound or not principle, it’s to early to tell, as it not been running long enough to show up any medium to long term problems. What it clearly does do is leave the remaining water in the system concentrated with the contaminants it has. Ergo the really nasty stuff from industry and domestic household products.

Moving on to what to do with the sludge from the STW, which is highly concentrated with very few of the toxins from the above sources remove. I heard it suggested it could be used as fertilizer on farmland. The Problem with that is you can only apply 3 applications to the land because of the toxins/chemicals in it as it is now. Those I’d suggest would need to be lowered because you have concentrated them by reducing the overall water volume of the sludge.

Incinerate them perhaps? Not if you want to reduce your CO2 levels you can’t! The nature of some of those toxins/chemicals they must be burnt at 1300c plus.

I even heard CEO of a new company/process on the radio the other day waxing on about how his process could turn sludge into pellets and put back on the land as fertilizer. Never occurred to him or the presenter that the pellets would have all the inherent toxins/chemicals problems of spreading wet sludge on the land.

The problem of disposing of Sewage is as near an intractable one to say the least. Is it an insurmountable one? Probably not but will cost a large amount of money to remedy but that should not be a barrier to doing it.
 

rob48

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If private water companies can’t run safely without polluting our waterways or investing the necessary funds to provide a decent service then they need bringing back into public ownership.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
They were polluting long before privatisation, mainly due to lack of investment during this period of public ownership and large-scale neglect.
 
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