Anyone interested in how Britain’s water companies are letting us down should read this article in The New Statesman. The piece by Will Dunn discusses how privatisation and the pursuit of profit lead to the devastation of England’s waterways.

This must stop.

Thames Water has pumped at least 72bn litres of sewage into the River Thames since 2020 – roughly equal to 29,000 Olympic swimming pools – new figures reveal.

Read the full article on the Guardian’s website.

Did you know that raw sewage is being dumped into English waterways the equivalent of 800 times a day?

Water companies treat our blue spaces like an open sewer. Meanwhile government and regulators continue to turn a blind eye. This needs to stop.

If you’re like me and agree that PM Rishi Sunak should take action to stop sewage pollution in UK rivers and beaches, please add your name to the Greenpeace petition.

They’re sorry … while we swim in polluted water.

Water companies apologise for sewage spills and pledge £10bn of investment, but critics say it’s too little England’s water and sewage companies have apologised for polluting rivers and beaches and pledged that more will be done to end it.

Ruth Kelly, chair of Water UK, the industry body, said that the public was “right to be upset” and that “more should have been done” to limit sewage spills.

photp showing polluted water entering a river

Image source inews/Robert Brook/Getty

Since privatisation, the water companies have taken billions of pounds in dividends while delivering polluted rivers and beaches. They must pay to clean this up and not pass the costs on to their hard-pressed customers. Unfortunately, the regulator and government don’t seem to be on the side of the public.

Read the full article on the i news website

Is it time to renationalise our utilities?

If you live in the UK, you will have noticed the increased level of interest in the discharge of sewage into our rivers and seas. The government is concerned about the impact of this on the upcoming local elections and is talking tough but doing nothing.

The situation with raw sewage also affects businesses. For instance, we live in South Devon, where we are fortunate to have access to some of the best beaches in the UK. One of which, Blackpool Sands was voted the “best beach in Britain,” according to the blurb on the website:

Nature’s golden beach, set in an unspoilt, sheltered bay, lapped by clear blue water and surrounded by magnificent evergreens and pines. Blackpool Sands is the ideal family beach to relax, swim or sail. But don’t just take our word for it – come and see for yourself! Relax or play; it’s South Devon’s most beautiful beach any day!

photo of Blackpool sands, devon, uk

The owners of Blackpool Sands have invested a lot of money over the winter in new and upgraded facilities. I can’t imagine how they feel learning that, according to the Independent newspaper, Blackpool Sands ranks the worst for seaside sewage spillage as shown in the following graphic.

graphic showing polluted beaches in the south-west, uk

Since privatisation in 1989, private water companies in England* have underinvested in pollution prevention to boost profits*.

They’ve built a debt mountain of £53bn, while giving shareholders £72bn!

Attempts to regulate them have failed. Under privatisation, it clearly pays to pollute.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The UK’s most trusted utility company is publicly owned Scottish Water. They’ve spent £72 more per household per year than English water companies. That’s equivalent to an extra £28 billion being invested in England’s water network!

fat cat tory

Send the Government a clear message: stop privatisation, stop the sewage.

You can help by signing the petition organised by We Own It here

we own it logo

Despite it raining in Devon almost every day since we moved here in October last year, South West Water is imposing a hosepipe ban on us from 25th April.

south west water hosepipe ban

Since last summer, our region has been in drought. Low rainfall and high demand have stopped our reservoirs from recovering to levels we would usually see going into the summer. Roadford Lake, our main reservoir in Devon, remains around 27% lower than this time last year, despite the recent rain. To see our latest reservoir levels, please visit our website here.

We must rethink how our utilities are run, as these companies have a monopoly over the consumer. We have no choice over who supplies our water, so they can charge what they like and impose restrictions on the service.

Our government and the water companies' lack of effort and urgency about the declining state of our rivers and streams is frustrating. Our rivers are too precious for us to allow them to be polluted by human and farmyard sewage, pesticides and fertilisers.

This is a photo I took of the River Avon near Topsham Bridge, Hendham, Devon. It looks lovely, doesn’t it?

photo of a river

However, according to a report in the Kingsbridge & Salcombe Gazette:

South Hams’ beautiful River Avon is one of 20 rivers nationwide that have been highlighted by the Wildlife Trusts as being at particular risk from pollution

Read the full article here.

Please support this campaign by the RSPB to ban the industrial fishing of sandeels in UK waters.

photo of a puffin with a beak full of sandeels

Our threatened seabirds need your help. The UK Government could make the game-changing decision to ban industrial sandeel fishing in English waters.  Please take action today to help make it happen.

Sandeels are massively important for UK sea life. They’re a vital food source for many seabirds, including puffins and kittiwakes, globally threatened with extinction. Every summer, hundreds of thousands of UK birds rely on them to feed their young. But right now, sandeels are under immense pressure.

More information here

Please sign this petition to stop the body parts of lions killed in gruesome hunts from being bought and imported into the UK as hunting trophies.

photo of a shot lion

To hunt these beautiful animals for fun is inhumane and just wrong.

Read more and sign the petition

UPDATE 17/03/2023: Ban on imports of animal hunting trophies set to become law

The government has backed legislation which would stop hunters from bringing back body parts of thousands of species, including lions, rhinos, elephants and polar bears, killed abroad. Tory MP Henry Smith, who proposed the bill, said it would help conserve the world’s most endangered species. It was approved by MPs and will now face further scrutiny in the Lords. As it has the support of the government, the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill is likely to become law.

Read more

Today, news outlets in the UK report that water companies have failed to monitor the amount of sewage discharged into the sea in popular resort towns.

a cartoon of a lady being fined for dog mess

This is a disgrace, and I’ve supported a petition calling on the Government to renationalise the water supply as the industry, in its current form, is no longer fit for purpose.

Sign the petition

My neighbour has been moving the earth to extend his wildlife pond #FridayPhoto 📷

photo of a dug out pond

iPhone 11, Halide app, processed in ON1 Photo RAW 2022

Mark Barrow has spent thirty years filming underwater clips that document the state of Britain’s rivers and streams. In the last twenty years, he has seen the percentage of UK waterways classified as healthy drop from over 90% to less than 15%. Now, as water companies are effectively granted free licence to pump sewage directly into rivers, he says he has witnessed whole stretches of water completely devoid of life. View his report on YouTube

Perhaps the country is finally about to see through Boris Johnson. Everyone does in the end.

Boris Johnson is the prime minister of a country that is a genuine world leader on carbon reduction. And here he was, covering the arses of the countries that deliberately sabotaged Cop26, for no reason beyond his own juvenile boosterism.

Read the full article on the Independent

This is a disgrace.

Tory MPs have been defending themselves from accusations they have given the go-ahead to water companies to dump raw sewage in rivers.

A proposal from the Lords to the Environment Bill that would have placed legal duties on the companies to reduce discharges was defeated by 265 MPs' votes to 202 last week.

Source: Tory MPs defend votes after uproar over sewage proposals - BBC News

UK Government says polluters can dump sewage into rivers as Brexit disrupts water treatment

It beggars belief that the UK government is telling businesses they can dump raw sewage into our rivers because of Brexit-related issues with the supply chain. Boris Johnson’s “Sunlit Uplands” will start to stink if this carries on much longer.

This is the quote from today’s “Inside Politics” email from The Independent:

Is Brexit just a load of crap? Amid the well-documented supply chain and lorry driver shortage crises, ministers have given businesses the green light to dump the brown stuff in Britain’s rivers. Some companies have found it more difficult to get hold of water treatment chemicals because of supply chain disruption at ports blamed primarily on the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Environment Agency this week said companies struggling to get hold of such products would be allowed to “discharge effluent without meeting the conditions” of their permits, which normally require water to be treated.

The Green Party is furious. Amelia Womack, deputy leader, said: “This is a failure of their understanding on how our country’s most basic infrastructure works and using our environment as a dumping ground rather than addressing the root causes of the problem. “To prevent further Brexit chaos and undermining of environmental protections, the government must work to mend supply chains and work to cooperate rather than trying to look ‘tough’.”

The government says the measures are “strictly time-limited and there are robust conditions in place to mitigate risks to the environment”. Maybe best to avoid wild swimming for a while.

Read the full article here