Sewage pollution: Why the UK water industry is broken

  • 11.09.2022

One swimmer near St Leonards-on-Sea in east Sussex was recently hospitalized with a suspected ruptured spleen after swallowing raw sewage in seawater. Unlike coastal discharges, it has always been a requirement to treat sewage before it enters rivers. Even so, the quantity of raw sewage entering rivers is increasing.

Aside from fecal bacteria, there is a swarm of other health risks that come with swimming in contaminated water, not to mention a range of pollutants that current methods for treating wastewater fail to remove, such as microplastics and soluble drugs.

Sewage spills also damage the environment, including chalk streams: a globally rare shallow-water habitat that is largely found in England. Bacteria in the water that break down raw sewage consume a lot of oxygen, suffocating fish and other wildlife.