Human waste, napkins, tampons… The untreated sewage discharged into the sea carries its share of nauseating discharges. Unfathomable from an ecological point of view, this practice is, however, mostly legal. In very heavy rain, the water companies may actually carry out these discharges to avoid clogging of a sewer network, often dating from the Victorian era, and therefore of the rises towards the buildings. These spills have also increased in recent days after storms and rain caused flash floods in the southern part of the country.
According to SAS, which campaigns for clean water, water companies reported more than 5,500 discharges in the year to the end of September, an increase of 87.6% in a year. The association, which has developed an application to warn swimmers and surfers, notes that there are more and more discharges during of “normal rain episodes”, and not unusual rainfall. It also considers the figure largely underestimated because it only concerns coastal waters. Waterways are not spared. According to the Environment Agency, only 14% of England’s rivers were considered ecologically satisfactory in 2020.