Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 13th November 2020. Rivers: West Lancashire
Rosie Cooper MP “To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of allocating additional funding to the Environment Agency to fund the desilting of land in West Lancashire constituency so that that land can be effectively drained to protect crops from loss and damage”.
Rebecca Pow MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs “De-silting (also referred to as dredging) and clearing channels, are important parts of the Environment Agency’s (EA) river maintenance regime. The EA will undertake these activities where there is evidence that they will reduce flood risk to local properties cost effectively without increasing flooding downstream.
“Typically over each of the past three years the Environment Agency has spent between £45 million and £55 million a year on channel maintenance, of which between £5 million and £11 million is for dredging.
“Channel maintenance in West Lancashire, where the majority of watercourses are man-made for drainage, includes a range of activities to maintain conveyance such as desilting, weed cutting and removing blockages. Locally over the last three years in West Lancashire the EA has carried out £175,000 worth of desilting, as part of its recurring maintenance programme”.
Pow also stated in answer to “What steps she is taking to ensure that untreated sewage is not released into (a) rivers and (b) other inland waters”.
“During periods of significant rainfall untreated sewage diluted by rainwater will discharge through storm overflows to avoid streets, premises and sewage treatment plants from being flooded. Water companies are committed in the 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) to a significant programme of improvements to the monitoring and management of storm overflows at a cost of around £1.2 billion. This includes over 700 schemes to provide environmental improvements by reducing spills from frequently spilling overflows. As part of this investment, ‘Event Duration Monitoring’ is currently being installed on most storm overflows to improve our understanding, and to trigger investigations and improvements by water companies when overflows operate too frequently.
“I recognise that there is more to do with regards to the management of sewage pollution. I met water company CEOs in September and made clear that the volumes of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather must be reduced. To achieve this, I have set up a new Taskforce bringing together Government, the water industry, regulators and environmental NGOs. This Taskforce will set out clear proposals to address the volumes of sewage discharged into our rivers. The Taskforce is also exploring further short-term actions water companies can take to accelerate progress on storm overflows”.