Moment turbid water is pumped into the River Tame near Manchester – as firms are told they ‘WON’T be allowed’ to make customers foot the bill for fixing sewage spills
This is the moment turbid water was pumped into the River Tame near Manchester earlier this week.
Footage taken by Professor Jamie Woodward of the River Tame at Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, shows treated sewage pouring into the murky brown water on Wednesday.
It comes as firms were told they ‘won’t be allowed’ to make customers foot the bill for fixing sewage spills.
Government sources and pricing regulator Ofwat denied bills would go up to pay for upgrades in the UK’s sewer system, according to the Telegraph.
After filming waste being released from Dukinfield Treatment Works, Prof Woodward wrote: ‘The River Tame in Greater Manchester at Dukinfield. A release of turbid brown untreated wastewater into low flows during dry weather. This is why the Tame is so heavily contaminated with microplastics.’
A comment left on the post by United Utilities has since revealed the sewage was treated and therefore not an environmental risk.
Meanwhile, an MP has warned climate change could see more sewage being pumped into rivers in the near future.
Untreated human waste can only legally be released in Britain’s waterways if heavy rainfall overloads the sewerage system and risks sending sewage back into homes
A United Utilities spokesman wrote: ‘We’ve looked into your concerns at this location & can confirm this is not untreated sewage. It is treated effluent leaving Dukinfield treatment works. We can assure you it’s meeting the strict standards set by the environment agency.’
Untreated sewage spills are only supposed to happen in ‘exceptional’ circumstances when heavy rainfall overloads the systems, but last year there were 400,000.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said heavy rainfall would cause the issue of untreated human waste in waterways to worsen.
In a letter to his constituents on Wednesday, he wrote: ‘In times of the heaviest rain the system may not be able to handle the volume of water so to prevent the sewage backing up and flooding into homes or on to roads the overspill is released into rivers and the sea.
‘I agree this is happening too frequently and with climate change causing more severe weather events it could worsen.’
It comes after John Leyland, the Environment Agency’s chief of staff, warned Britons to not risk swimming in the country’s rivers amid continuing concern over sewage being dumped into them.
And swimmers were warned to stay away from Traeth Benllech on Anglesey after sewage was pumped into the sea nearby earlier this week.
Ministers this week U-turned to insist water firms will be punished for overflowing sewers.
Peers had proposed an amendment to the Environment Bill last week in an attempt to cut pollution. But a subsequent Commons vote saw Tory MPs vote down the new law, sparking a backlash from eco-campaigners.
The House of Lords was expected to reinstate its amendment to the Bill – forcing ministers to backtrack.
Meanwhile, drone footage emerged on Monday showing untreated sewage pouring into Langstone Harbour in Hampshire between October 20 and 22.
Facing defeat in Parliament, Environment Secretary George Eustice pledged an amendment to enshrine in law a new duty ‘to ensure water companies secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows’.
Yesterday, Prof Woodward wrote: ‘The River Tame in Greater Manchester at Dukinfield. A release of turbid brown untreated wastewater into low flows during dry weather. This is why the Tame is so heavily contaminated with microplastics’
Footage taken by Professor Jamie Woodward of the River Tame at Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, shows sewage pouring into the murky brown water on Wednesday
Combined sewer overflows are safety release valves that pump out human waste from the sewage system into rivers or the sea during periods of heavy rainfall to prevent waste from backing up into homes.
They have been the subject of public debate over the past week after Tory MPs voted against an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have put a legal duty on water companies to stop raw sewage from being dumped into waterways.
Every Conservative MP in north Wales voted against the amendment, apart from Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton who did not register a vote.
An interactive map by the Rivers Trust shows where the sewerage network discharges and overflows into rivers. The brown spots mark the locations where spills have occurred over the past 24 hours.
Professor Woodward shared a graph showing the water levels had not risen before the sewage was released into the River Tame
Water companies will be forced to slash the amount of sewage they pump into rivers and seas following a U-turn by ministers. It comes after video showed untreated waste pouring into Langstone Harbour in Hampshire for 49 hours (pictured)
The larger spots represent the areas where there have been over 100 spills in that period.
They show sewage spills across parts of several major north Wales rivers, including the Afon Dyfrdwy (River Dee) and Afon Conwy.
The Rivers Trust says that people should ‘avoid entering the water immediately downstream of these discharges and avoid the overflows (brown circles), especially after it has been raining’.
Swallowing water contaminated by sewage can make people sick as it can contain risk bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli.
Diseases such as hepatitis A and leptospirosis have also been linked to sewage water.
An interactive map by the Rivers Trust shows where the sewerage network discharges and overflows into rivers. The brown spots mark the locations where spills have occurred over the past 24 hours
The brown spots along the River Tame show where waste has been released previously
A D*r Cymru spokesperson said: ‘Our combined storm overflows (CSOs) play an essential role in stopping sewage from backing up into customers’ properties during periods of heavy rain. They are designed to release storm waters into rivers or the sea and their operation is highly regulated and closely monitored by our regulator Natural Resources Wales.
‘Due to the heavy rainfall seen in the Benllech area on Wednesday, we had a consented spill from our CSO in Benllech. This is fully compliant with our operating permit from NRW.
‘We are committed to being open and transparent with our spill data and provide real time spill information on identified beaches, which includes Benllech, to interested groups to notify them of a spill’.
Footage shot last week showed untreated sewage being released from the Budds Farm treatment plant, run by Southern Water, from a 7ft-wide outfall into Langstone Harbour, a conservation area in Hampshire.
Alex Ford, professor at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Portsmouth, told MailOnline crabs in the harbour have low sperm counts because of the sewage.
He said: ‘Some chemicals which come out with wastewater discharges are accumulating in our wildlife such as whales and dolphins.
‘These include plastic additives, flame retardants and the non-stick/stain chemicals from frying pans and fabrics.
‘We often think of sewage as faeces but it’s also all our washing liquids, powders, shampoos and shower gels and the pharmaceuticals (e.g. antidepressants) we excrete.
‘We have studied sperm counts in Langstone Harbour where the drone footage was taken and discovered that the crustaceans have low sperm counts.’
Untreated sewage has been pumped into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times in the last year, according to the Environment Agency.
MailOnline has contacted the Environment Agency for comment.