Polluted Waters Report - Utility Bidder

Polluted Waters Report

Which UK rivers have the highest pollution levels?

From making a cup of tea to producing electricity for business , there are so many things that can contribute to global warming. Unfortunately, there has been a recent surge in the levels of water pollution across the UK, with over 389,000 discharges of untreated sewage having entered rivers in 2022.

Storm overflows are designed to prevent sewer flooding by discharging wastewater into rivers which can be detrimental to both the environment and wildlife. To find which areas are contributing the most to water pollution, we have analysed data on the duration and number of counted spills across the UK over the last year - here’s what we found.

Cornwall saw the highest number of counted spills during 2022 - totalling 11,285.

Storm overflows are praised for helping to protect streets and houses from flooding during heavy rain, but in doing so they pollute the water of rivers. Below is a list of UK areas which have seen the highest number of counted spills in 2022.

1.

Cornwall

With 11,285 counted spills during 2022, Cornwall has more recorded storm overflow spills than any other area in the UK. This area is known for its stunning beaches - which are popular tourist hotspots during the warmer months - but Cornwall’s position on this ranking may make people think twice before taking a swim.

Number of counted spills:

11,285
2.

Carmarthenshire

The next local authority on our list is Carmarthenshire which has seen 11,195 counted spills throughout last year. Carmarthenshire is nicknamed the ‘Garden of Wales’ as a result of its agriculture and land, but unfortunately, the pesticides used in farming have been known to contribute to water pollution.

Number of counted spills:

11,195
3.

County Durham

Completing our top three list of UK areas with the most counted spills in 2022 is County Durham - totalling 9,940. This area has had some run-ins with the Environment Agency over the last year, with some water-related incidents resulting in penalties for the parties who have breached regulations.

Number of counted spills:

9,940

UK areas with the most counted spills

Number of counted spills

Local authority

Carmarthenshire recorded 86,603 hours of spills in 2022 - more than any other area in the UK

The duration of storm flows in the UK totalled more than 2.2 million hours in 2022 and this has affected rivers and beaches all across the country, but which areas have seen the highest total duration of spills? Here’s what we found.

1.

Carmarthenshire

Totalling 86,603 hours of spills from storm overflows, and taking the top spot in our list, is Carmarthenshire. Considering the fact that this county was featured in a previous top three on our report, it may come as no surprise that it has clocked up the highest duration of spills in the UK.

Total duration of spills (hrs):

86,603
2.

Cornwall

Making its second appearance in one of our lists is Cornwall, this time as the area with the second highest total duration of spills in the UK. In an attempt to help tackle the issue of water pollution, the government have put together a ‘storm overflows discharge reduction plan’ which aims to protect the environment and people.

Total duration of spills (hrs):

78,775
3.

Gwynedd

The county borough of Gwynedd is next on our list. As the second Welsh location in our top three, it appears that this area has been a recent hotspot for water pollution. With 75,561 hours of spills in 2022, Gwynedd has the third highest total duration of spills in the UK - that gives sewage discharge a lot of opportunity to enter the surrounding rivers/ beaches.

Total duration of spills (hrs):

75,561

UK areas with the highest total duration of spills

Total duration of spills (hrs)

Local authority

With an average spill duration of 15.8 hours, Chichester has a higher duration than any other UK area

Whether it is because of their business energy supply or general bad practice, companies have been penalised over the years for contributing to water pollution. Below is a list of UK areas with the highest average duration per spill from storm overflows.

1.

Chichester

Chichester towers above the other entries in our top three in terms of its high total duration of spills, totalling 19,542. This, paired with 1,238 counted spills, has resulted in an average spill duration of 15.8 hours which is the highest of any area in the UK.

Average duration per spill (hrs):

15.8
2.

Test Valley

Next up on our list, with an average duration of 15.3 hours per spill, is Test Valley. Despite having the lowest total duration of spills in our top three, the low number of counted spills provides this borough with the second-highest average duration per spill in the UK.

Average duration per spill (hrs):

15.3
3.

West Berkshire

Completing our top three list of the UK areas with the highest average spill duration is West Berkshire, averaging 15 hours per spill. Amongst the rivers that run through West Berkshire is the Thames which has likely been polluted with sewage from the counted spills here.

Average duration per spill (hrs):

15.0

UK areas with the highest average duration per spill

KEY: Number of counted spills Total duration of spills (hrs) Average duration per spill (hrs)

Local Authority

Methodology

We used Catchment Based Approach Data Hub to find the number of counted spills and the total duration of spills in each local authority across England and Wales in 2022.

We divided the total duration of spills by the number of counted spills to calculate the average spill duration for each local authority.

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