Drinking Water and Sewage: Standards

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered am ar 24 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Ceidwadwyr

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address public concerns concerning (1) the quality of drinking water, and (2) the discharge of untreated waste into the sea, rivers and lakes.

Photo of Lord Douglas-Miller Lord Douglas-Miller The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

It is important not to conflate the quality of raw water and drinking water. Drinking water quality in England is of an exceptionally high standard and among the best in the world. Compliance with drinking water quality standards has been consistently high for a number of years, with a rate of 99.97% in 2022.

The Government published the Plan for Water in April 2023 – our comprehensive strategy for managing our water environment. It brings together the significant steps we have already taken with a suite of new policy actions. It aims to change the way that we manage water, improve water quality, and continue to secure our water supply through increased investment, stronger regulation and enforcement.

The Government is clear that the amount of sewage discharged into our waters is unacceptable. The Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan (SODRP) sets out stringent targets to protect people and the environment; and prioritises for early action areas used for bathing, for growing shellfish or with high ecological importance. The SODRP will drive £60 billion investment between now and 2050 to improve storm overflows, the largest infrastructure programme in water company history.

We will not let companies get away with illegal activity and where breaches are found, the regulators will not hesitate to hold companies to account.

The recent cryptosporidium outbreak in Brixham is extremely unfortunate and it is a horrific experience for the people who have been made ill. The Drinking Water Inspectorate is actively investigating the cause, extent and actions of the company, and will take actions including enforcement action in due course to prevent this type of event happening again.

Thankfully, these events are very rare, and elsewhere consumers should continue to have confidence in their high quality drinking water.

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