Improving Our Water Quality
Quality of life is something we all care about whether that be air quality or the state of our streams, rivers, and seas. So, improving water quality is vital as it plays a key part in delivering our goals to recover nature and protect the environment.
Recently, the risk to our environment and water quality due to sewage being discharged from storm overflows into water sources has been in the news. Across Stockport our sewage systems are combined, meaning the water from my sink and toilet meets in the same sewer before going to our local water treatment plant. This may have worked in the Victorian age when it was designed but with more houses and rising populations there’s now a huge demand on our sewage systems. To prevent sewage backing up into our homes during very heavy rainwater companies were allowed to discharge some of this mixed sewage water into watercourses and seas, but this is happening too often.
With over 15,000 storm overflows in England, all discharging at different rates, damaging our environments and the quality of our waters, it was shocking that in 2016 only 6% of storm overflows were monitored. We have fixed this and now ,100% will be fully monitored by next year meaning more water companies will be fined for these spills.
The new Government plan, introducing the biggest investment in water company history, makes it clear to companies that the current use of storm overflows is unacceptable and the Government has imposed a legally binding duty on water companies to reduce the number of discharges from overflows with a clear goal to end the practice.
In this plan, new targets have been set to revolutionise our sewer system and generate the most significant investment and delivery programme ever undertaken by water companies to protect people and the environment.
Our water is supplied and treated by United Utilities, and they recently produced their Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan, to reform the service initially with £3.62 billion of spending. On top of this, to meet the new Government requirements, United Utilities aim to invest over £18 billion in improving their infrastructure with 40% of this funding allocated to the Upper Mersey Catchment Area which includes Stockport and Cheadle.
This is a welcome solution to the issues we face with water quality and pollution across the UK and, although updating our Victorian underground sewers will take time, I look forward to seeing progress being made by the Government and United Utilities.
Meanwhile, it’s important that we make our views known on these plans and United Utilities are asking for feedback through their consultation. As customers we should all have our say on these proposals to reduce sewage discharge and improve water quality so please, after you finished reading the Stockport Express, take part in the consultation which is open until the 22nd September on the United Utilities website.