Environment Agency permits water firms to discharge untreated sewage until the end of the year

Wastewater companies have been given the green light to discharge effluent that has not been fully treated.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 5:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 5:32 pm

The Environment Agency has told water firms they can temporarily reduce the amount of chemicals used, due to the national lorry driver shortage.

In a regulatory position statement on Tuesday, the Environment Agency said this would only apply to water and sewerage company discharges from waste water treatment works ‘that cannot comply’ with permit conditions because of a shortage of chemicals to treat effluent.

A spokesperson for Water UK, Southern Water's national trade body, said: "We are currently experiencing some disruption to the supply in England of ferric sulphate, a chemical used at some drinking and wastewater treatment sites.

The UK Government said this action is 'strictly time-limited' and there are 'robust conditions in place to mitigate risks' to the environment. Photo: Steve Robards

“This will not affect the supply of drinking water.

"As a precaution, however, we are monitoring the situation due to the use of ferric sulphate in some waste treatment works. We are working closely with government and our chemical suppliers to ensure disruption is minimised.

“This issue has arisen due to a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK. There is no shortage of ferric sulphate in factories; the issue is solely one of distribution.”

The UK Government said this action is 'strictly time-limited' and there are 'robust conditions in place to mitigate risks' to the environment.

A spokesperson added: "The most sensitive and high-risk watercourses will not be affected and any company planning to make use of this short-term measure must first agree to its use with the Environment Agency, which will be checking compliance.”

The Environment Agency said the temporary relaxation of the rules would last until December 31 'unless we extend it'.

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