Water Quality

Waterways provide opportunities for millions of people to be active and unwind, to relax and play, but sadly they are being used to discharge raw sewage. With a growing population, more extreme weather events, increasing urbanisation and a lack of investment our sewage systems are increasingly unable to cope.

In 2020 alone, raw sewage was discharged into UK Rivers over 400,000 times, threatening the health of those who love to paddle and swim as well as having a devastating impact on the natural environment reducing biodiversity and damaging delicate ecosystems.

Our Ambition: We want coastal and inland waters free from sewage pollution, rich in wildlife for all to enjoy the benefits of being connected with nature.

Find out what we are asking for by viewing our ‘Water Quality British Canoeing Asks’ document. Click here to view.

What are we doing about it?

Working closely with the #EndSewagePollution Coalition to align policy and agree collective actions. You can learn more by clicking here.

Influencing future water sector policy by responding to Defra & Ofwat consultations. Click here to see our response to Ofwat’s consultation on their framework for the 2024 price review period (PR24).

Engaging with the Environmental Audit Committee review on water quality and sewage pollution. Here’s a couple of examples of how we’ve engaged:

  • Presenting oral evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, as part of an inquiry into water quality in rivers. Click here for more information.
  • Submitting written evidence to the EAC. Click here to learn more.

Engaging directly with water companies to influence their AMP 8 priorities.

How can I help support better water quality?

Really easily! We ask that you continue to contact your MP and explain why sewage free blue spaces are important for you and demand action is taken to ensure water companies stop discharging untreated sewage into the places we love to paddle.

The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill

The Bill has now unfortunately run out of time in the current parliamentary session to be made into law, however we can all continue to champion the case for some of the key asks:

  • A duty on water companies to ensure untreated sewage is no longer discharged into England’s inland waters.
  • Transparent, reliable real-time data to be available on all sewage discharges all year round.
  • Water companies to set out plans to progressively reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

With support from over 130 MP’s for the Bill, the government and the industry has faced growing pressure to take action to end sewage pollution and we have started to see positive steps being taken:

  • The government has committed to publishing a plan by September 2022 detailing how sewage discharges from storm overflows will be reduced.
  • The government must report to parliament on the progress of the plan.
  • Water companies must provide annual operation data on storm overflows.
  • Water companies will now make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing water sites.

Thanks for your hard work campaigning on this issue, let’s continue to take action and ensure the future of our blue spaces is sewage free.

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