The ‘Top of the Poops’ website says that most, if not actually all, of the beaches and designated coastal bathing locations around England and Wales are regular recipients of a good layer of sewage.
Sadly, the New Brighton coastal bathing location tops the list for the whole of England and Wales by the duration of sewage overflows, as reported by the water companies.
In 2022, there were 1,149 sewage dumps in Wirral that affected the New Brighton coastal bathing location, for a total duration of 7,056 hours. On average sewage discharge happened 3.1 times per day from Wirral overflows.
Overall, across the area served by United Utilities, the water company was responsible for 69,245 sewage overflows in 2022. On average, that works out at 189.7 times a day. These lasted for 425,490 hours in 1,670 different locations across their service area.
Top of the Poops issued an accuracy warning: Top of the Poops use data from the water companies, but they are seeing many anomalies, that make them believe that bathing location information is quite poor. The situation is likely far worse than reported here.
United Utilities, responsible for supplying water across the North West, was accountable for the highest quantity of untreated raw sewage discharged last year, as a fifth of all discharges nationally happened under their watch with 425,490 hours’ worth of sewage dumped.
In the same year, the company paid out dividends of £296 million after operating profits of £610 million.
This coincided with current Environment Secretary Therese Coffey’s decision to cut funding for environmental protection, during her tenure as Water Minister. The Secretary of State has broken her Government’s own statutory deadline for publishing water quality targets; announced a 36-year delay to cleaning-up waterways; told Parliament that meeting polluting water bosses wasn’t her priority and been heavily criticised for announcing a storm overflow reduction plan containing no reduction measures.
During the passage of the Environment Bill, Conservative MPs voted to allow water firms to continue sewage dumping, blocking a Labour-backed amendment that would have progressively eliminated sewage dumping – saving Wallasey’s water from the pollution it is currently filled with.
In April, Wallasey MP Angela Eagle said, “The latest data brings to the surface the shocking quantity of raw sewage being dumped into Wallasey’s waters This is a crisis of this Government’s own making – sewage flowed into Wallasey’s water for over 950 more hours last year than in 2021.
”Labour’s amendment to the Environment Bill would’ve put a stop to this, but the Tories failed to support it – instead burying their heads in the sand as our beaches, lakes and rivers are filled with waste.
“United Utilities needs to clean up their act – if they can pay out £296 million to shareholders and execs, they can afford to take action to stop the flow of sewage into our water.”
A United Utilities spokesperson, said, “We know how important the issue of river quality is to our customers in Merseyside and we know there is more to be done – that’s why we’re challenging ourselves to move further and faster in tackling the problems. We’re bringing forward £900m of investment before 2025 across the region, £36m of which will be spent on projects on the Wirral with more to follow.
“Since 1991, we have spent around £3bn in our treatment works and sewer systems in the Mersey basin, this has included a £200m extension to Liverpool wastewater treatment works. We’re pleased this investment has already had a positive impact with the wide variety of aquatic life that continues to return to the Mersey.”
Top of The Poops – Beaches
- United Utilities – New Brighton 7,056 hours
- United Utilities – Allonby 6,754 hours
- United Utilities – Morecambe North 5,348 hours
- South West Water – Plymouth Hoe (East) 5,158 hours
- United Utilities – St Annes 4,700 hours
- United Utilities – Morecambe South 4,614 hours
- United Utilities – Seascale 4,545 hours
- United Utilities – Southport, St Annes Pier, St. Annes North and Blackpool South 3,671 hours
- Southern Water – Cowes, Gurnard 3,161 hours
- South West Water – Mothecombe Beach 2,884 hours
For more information, visit the Top of the Poops website