Sewage scandal: Water companies under fire for faulty monitors
WATER bosses are again in the firing line after new figures suggested one in eight ‘sewage monitors’ installed for designated swimming areas in the south of England are either faulty or not installed.
The analysis, compiled by the Liberal Democrats from Environment Agency data, comes just days after images of untreated sewage being pumped into the seas around England made headlines.
The number and scale of so-called “sewage dumps” from storm overflows is measured by ‘Event Duration Monitors,’ however a host of popular swimming spots – including Littlehampton in Sussex and Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire – do not have such a monitor, despite the presence of sewage overflow pipes.
According to the Lib Dem analysis, one in four sewage discharges went unmonitored last year “because water companies either failed to install monitors, or the monitors weren’t working for at least 90 per cent of the time.”
A spokesperson for Water UK challenged the figures, saying after installation monitors “go through a period of calibration until they are considered fully operational” and said every overflow will be monitored by the end of next year.
“Companies agree there is an urgent need for action,” the spokesperson added.
In July, the water regulator said bosses should face jail unless their firms brought the number of overflows down.
The regulator, OfWat, has been criticised in recent days for not acting faster on sewage drops.
Liberal Democrats Environment spokesperson Tim Farron MP said: “These water companies could be guilty of gross negligence by failing to install sewage monitors. This is a national scandal and these new figures stink of a cover-up. Britain’s seaside resorts are being swamped by foul sewage yet the Government is nowhere to be found.