Water firms discharged raw sewage into English waters 400,000 times last year

Water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters in England more than 400,000 times last year, Environment Agency (EA) data has revealed.

Untreated human effluent poured into rivers and seas for a total of 3.1m hours via storm overflow pipes that are supposed to be used only in extreme weather to relieve pressure in the sewage system.

The data is being published for the first time as a result of pressure on the EA, water companies and the government over the scale of sewage pollution in rivers.

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