“Conservative MPs have once again voted to absolve water companies of responsibility by blocking our call for a sewage disease compensation scheme,” he said.

“Water company CEOs are collecting millions in bonuses while swimmers are getting sick. “It can’t continue like this,” he said. “If someone is poisoned by sewage, they should be compensated.”

Why are Britain’s waterways so polluted?

As of October, 1,924 people across the UK reported becoming ill after going into the water. Around 60% of these reports came after swimming in bathing waters rated as “very good”.

These damning figures – published in a report by campaigning organization Surfers against Sewage – are the “tip of the iceberg” as they only include illnesses reported to SAS.

Why are Britain’s waters so polluted? Our Victorian-era plumbing infrastructure is not equipped to cope with a growing population, so the Environment Agency is allowing water companies to divert overflows after heavy rainfall. As a result, Britain’s lakes, rivers and seas are regularly flooded with excrement and chemical wastewater, endanger the health of water users.

Naomi Jenkin, a 37-year-old artist from Newquay, became infected with a parasite called Cryptosporidium while surfing near Newquay.

“I had been surfing a lot at different beaches, and then one day I got really terrible stomach cramps,” she said.

“In the end I had to crawl into bed. I was shaking, I was burning, I had terrible stomach cramps. I was doubled over in pain. This manifested itself over the course of three weeks.”

Worse, companies are known for “dry spills” – illegal discharges that occur when heavy rain has not fallen.

Thames, Wessex and Southern Water appear to have released wastewater into dry waters for a total of 3,500 hours in 2022. On Monday (December 4), a BBC Panorama investigation revealed that North West water company United Utilities misreported its sewage pollution and incorrectly downgraded more than 60 incidents to the lowest pollution level. The company – which denies the allegations – received a £5 million bonus for meeting environmental targets.

Henry Swithinbank, policy and advocacy manager at SAS, described the impact of pollution on people’s health as “truly shocking”.

“Water companies absolutely need to right the wrongs they have done to the public, but the heart of the problem is that people just want to surf, swim, paddleboard and walk their dogs without the fear of getting sick “, he said .

“What this means for us is that we need to focus particularly on water companies that are investing money to address the core of the problem.”

Why do water companies give bonuses to their bosses?

Ofwat is already planning to tighten its rules on bonuses from next year and prevent customer money from being used for “inappropriate” payouts to executives.

The government welcomed this change, pointing out that the bonuses paid this year all came from shareholder money, not customer money.

“For 2022-23, no water company boss in England is paying a CEO bonus using customer money and many CEOs have chosen not to receive a bonus,” they said.

“The amount of wastewater being discharged into our waterways is completely unacceptable. That’s why our water plan calls for more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement to fight pollution and clean our water.”

Farron described the current rules as “the water companies doing their own homework.”

“I think there is a real anger [among the public]”,” he added. “And yes, I think people are blaming the current administration for their failure to act.”

Source : www.bigissue.com

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