Last week I went to inspect the Northumbrian Water (NWL) Spittal storm overflow, which recently had £50 million of investment approved to reduce spills: teamtrevelyan.co.uk/news/monthly-column-april-2023
Work so far has improved bathing water quality at Spittal from ‘Poor’ in 2015 to ‘Excellent’ in 2021 and 2022. In 2011, NWL transferred an overflow that previously discharged directly to the beach, meaning there are no discharges directly onto our beach.
- NWL is investing more than £90m between 2020-25
- 20% reduction in spills per overflow in 2022, and 40% reduction in the average duration of spills
- Sewer level monitors have been installed at 99% of their network since 2007
- NWL published their 25 year ‘Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan’ in May, setting out what they need to do to keep our wastewater systems fit for the future: nwl.co.uk/services/sewerage/dwmp/
Meanwhile, the Government's Environment Act 2021 strengthened our laws on water quality. Monitoring has increased from 7% in 2010 to over 90%, and the 2022 Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan set out stringent targets, backed up by the largest – £56 billion – infrastructure programme in water company history. Water companies must increase network capacity and treat sewage before it is discharged, while massively reducing discharges too.
Over £142m has been levied in fines since 2015, and the Government announced plans to expand their use and raise the cap on fines to an unlimited penalty.