More than 40 beaches around the country have suffered more than 2,000 discharging effluents. I worry about our own River Stour in Warwickshire. Is Severn Trent looking after it?
The Stour springs from Swalcliffe to Stratford-on-Avon, a short 14 miles. In the past, the river has been used for driving mills and spinning machines. The main settlement along the river is my nearest town, Shipston on Stour. And we’ve have seen the dark flood in the water, the materials such as oil, wood chipping and other unbelievable items. The National Audit Office says that, since 2016, raw sewage has more than doubled in our rivers.
Of course, now that the UK is no longer in the EU, we can do what we like with our rivers. So, it seems there’s almost no hope for fresh water to swim in. For either us or the fish.
Six of the UK’s nine main water and sewage companies are owned by offshore investment groups from China, Singapore and Kuwait. Scotland never did water privatisation. Bills are lower and the boss has no fat cat pay. Funny that.
As Feargal Sharkey said, the water industry is in an “extraordinary state of chaos” after decades of regulatory failure and underinvestment.
In theory, the Environment Agency fines or jails owners of water. In practice, last year the pumping of raw sewage into rivers as well as coastal waters occurred more than 400,000 times. There were widespread illegal discharges from treatment plants.
Labour leaders accused government ministers who have their heads in the sands, whilst they cut funds for the Environment Agency. The Government has been reluctant to do anything. There are many monitoring devices in place which are now rusty, or just not used. The water companies are working on just 10% time for the monitoring devices or not at all. The testing is once a month! There’s no testing at all from September to April.
The water companies also see huge profits whilst we see that only 17.2% of our waters contain water that is actually clean. In France, 77.5% of waterways are pure and no other EU country is the figure below 65%.
When we lived in Dorset, we walked in another River Stour. We could see the fish and wash our hands in the water.
But that was when we were part of the EU – happy days!