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  • by Karma Loveday

Spills from overflows near 147,000

The Environment Agency has reported there were 146,930 storm spills in 2018, from 6,182 overflows, which averages to about 24 spills a year from each overflow.

The data was contained in a wide ranging report detailing the agency’s regulatory activity.

Other water related content included the following.

For the financial year to the end of March 2019, seven of the nine water companies reported a Security of Supply Index (SoSI) score of 100, with the other two companies reporting a score of 98.

For the period April 2017 to March 2018, total leakage increased from 2.4 million cubic metres to around 2.45 million cubic metres per day. Almost all companies reported higher than forecast leakage.

Current levels of abstraction are unsustainable in more than a quarter of groundwater bodies and up to one-fifth of surface waters, reducing water levels and damaging wildlife. Since the restoring sustainable abstraction programme began in 2008, the Agency has made 92 water company licence changes and has 62 left to change by March 2020 when the programme closes. In 2018, it completed actions changing four water and sewerage company licences, saving approximately 5 million cubic metres of water from being abstracted each year.

In 2018, bathing water quality compliance was 97.9%, with only 9 waters receiving the lowest classification of "poor".

In 2018, serious pollution incidents caused by water companies increased slightly to 56, compared with 52 in 2017. Overall in 2018, water company performance deteriorated compared with 2017.

Chief executive, Sir James Bevan, said in his foreword to the report that the climate emergency is the biggest threat facing us today, and that regulation is one of “our key tools as a nation to help tackle the climate crisis”. The report also detailed the consequences of the summer of 2018 being the hottest on record for England.

It said: “The exceptionally dry conditions put pressure on water supplies and the environment. From May to July, rainfall was just 54% of the long term average. This caused a rapid reduction in reservoir levels, river flows and the amount of water available to wildlife. By September many reservoirs were only 40% full. The changing climate means that summers like this are likely to happen more often.

“We responded to an increased number of environmental incidents associated with the dry weather, including moorland fires, algal blooms, dry boreholes, low river flows and fish rescues. Between May and September there were more than double the typical number of serious pollution incidents that could be attributed to dry and hot weather-related conditions.”

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