MPs love to hear about the experiences of their constituents so be sure to add in a line or two about why you want them to clean up your favourite spot. And don’t forget to add your home address to show you’re a constituent.
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Dear Layla Moran,
How do you feel about sewage being poured into rivers and seas in your constituency last year over XXX times, a total of XXX hours?
How do you feel about sewage being poured into rivers and seas across England over 370,000 times last year, a total of 2.6 million hours (for more info visit Is my river fit to play in?)?
I was shocked to hear that sewage continued to be poured into rivers and seas across the UK last year (for more info visit Is my river fit to play in?).
The government has published a consultation on its plan to reduce sewage discharges. I am writing to tell you that I am thoroughly disappointed with this plan.
The plan completely fails to acknowledge the urgency needed to address the problem. Targets stretch way out to 2050 with over half of the storm overflows still set to be spewing a toxic cocktail of chemicals and sewage into our waterways in 2040. This is simply too slow. This plan needs to be much more holistic with targets for government and regulators too.
This is an opportunity for rivers and seas to be fit for everyone to enjoy and nature to thrive. The opportunity is being wasted.
This is a huge opportunity to make progress on tackling sewage pollution. It's an opportunity for rivers and seas to be fit for everyone to enjoy and nature to thrive. But the opportunity is being wasted.
The plan will only apply to England but I believe will set the tone for policy here too. I know the plan will only apply to England but I believe it will set the tone for policy in the devolved administrations. I’m calling on you, as my MP, to demand that the government rethink this plan. It needs to be much more ambitious to address the root cause of the problem and reflect the urgency of action needed. Environmental groups have put together a briefing for MP’s which I urge you to read.
[Add your address here]
We are calling on the government to rethink its Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan. They tell us that sewage pollution is a priority. But the plan doesn’t reflect the urgency needed to tackle the problem. Under the plan, half of storm overflows would still be pouring untreated sewage into our waterways in 2040.
Over 44,000 of you signed a petition calling on the government to introduce world leading water quality legislation to #EndSewagePollution. And tens of thousands more of you emailed your MP last year demanding that they support amendments to the Environment Act to place a legal obligation on water companies to stop discharging sewage into rivers and seas. The Government has a chance to do that NOW.
© Ben Birchall
Sewage pollution still plagues the rivers and ocean. Last year there were over 370,000 discharges of untreated sewage into English waters adding up to over 2.7 million hours. And during the bathing season water companies issued over 3,300 notifications for sewage being discharged straight into UK coastal bathing waters.
The sheer volume of sewage and run-off entering the water means the UK is ranked last in EU countries for bathing water quality. Water quality testing undertaken by Surfers Against Sewage volunteers last year also suggested that 75% of rivers monitored pose a continuous serious risk to human health.
When we swim, surf, paddle or play in water that has raw sewage in it, we’re at risk of catching gastroenteritis, ear, nose and throat infections, skin infections, and even hepatitis and e-coli. Water users in the UK are just as likely to get ill from seawater as they were in the 1990s.
Poor water quality also harms river and ocean wildlife, reducing biodiversity and damaging delicate ecosystems. Only 14% of rivers meet good ecological status and no river passes chemical standards.
We’re calling on the government to rethink its Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan.
The government’s plan therefore needs to tackle:
You have the power to make change happen, so write to your MP and demand they PIPE UP for rivers and the ocean.
© Sally Low
When the Environment Bill was first introduced to parliament, in 2020, there was hardly any focus on tackling sewage pollution and improving water quality. The #EndSewagePollution campaign brought together the passion and expertise of Ocean Activists, river lovers, NGOs, journalists, politicians and legal experts to catapult sewage pollution right to the top of the political agenda and on to the front pages. The campaign resulted in several key legal duties being added into UK law:
Before the #EndSewagePollution campaign kicked off, none of these duties to improve the state of UK water quality existed. Their inclusion is testament to the power of our grassroots activism.