Sewage spills mapped: these 4 interactive maps show river and sea pollution where you live in England and Wales

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
These four interactive maps shows the scale of sewage pollution by water companies across England and Wales.

Sewage discharges have polluted every corner of England and Wales in the last year, according to official data.

The water industry has been under widespread pressure from the public and the government to clean up its performance after recording almost 400,000 sewage dumping incidents in England and Wales in 2022, totalling to 3.3 million hours of pollution pouring into the country’s waterways.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The industry has committed to making changes. Earlier this year Water UK, the industry regulator, apologised on behalf of companies for “not acting quickly enough” to tackle sewage spills and announced a multi-billion pound investment plan to upgrade the country’s crumbling Victorian sewage system.

How polluted have the waterways been in your local area? These four maps will show you what the situation is like in your part of England and Wales.

How bad is the situation in my local area?

The four maps below show the extent of sewage discharges in your local area. The maps include location, constituency and local authority level figures.

The figures have been sourced from The Rivers Trust which uses official data published by Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water and the Environment Agency.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The first map below shows sewerage network discharges treated sewage and overflows of untreated sewage and storm water into rivers and seas – you can zoom in or search for your council area by clicking the magnifying glass. By clicking on a point you can see which water company was responsible for the discharge, the body of  water it went into, the total number of discharges in 2022 and the total number of hours sewage was discharged. Can’t see the map below? Click here to view it in a new tab.

The next map shows how many sewage discharges happened in your local area at a constituency level in 2022. The map below shows the total number of discharges and total number of hours sewage was poured into waterways in your local area.

The figures show Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in Wales had the greatest number of discharges with more than 7,000, totalling to over 62,000 hours. This was followed by Dwyfor Meirionnydd, also in Wales, with more than 6,000 discharges, totalling to over 57,000 hours of discharge.  If you can’t see the map click here to view it in a new tab.

The third map shows local authority level figures. Cornwall was found to have experienced the greatest total number of discharges with 11,285, totalling to 78,775 hours, followed by Carmarthenshire with 11,195 discharges, totalling 86,603 hours and County Durham with 9,940 discharges, totalling 33,486 hours. If you can’t see the map click here to open it in a new tab.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Regionally, Wales had the highest number of discharges in 2022, totalling to more than 82,000 discharges totalling to almost 585,000 hours. If you can’t see the regional map below click here to view it in a new window.

Why is data not available for 2023?

For swimmers looking to take a dip in their local river or sea at the weekend, finding out how clean the water is can be a challenge.

Currently only Thames Water and South West Water publish real-time information on sewage discharges but after major campaigning efforts all of England’s private water companies will publish real-time online data on sewage pollution spills by the end of this year.

Environmental campaigners at The Rivers Trust said it is “absolutely vital" that the data is published in a way that is accessible to the public. A spokesperson said: “We want to see it all in one place, and with enough detail for people to see what’s happening on their nearest river or watercourse."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Water UK, the body that represents the UK’s water industry, said that investment was happening to fix the larger issue of sewage discharge. They said: “We recognise that more should have been done to address the issue of spillages sooner.

“We have listened and have an unprecedented plan to start to put it right. Over the next seven years water and sewerage companies plan to spend £10 billion on the biggest transformation of our sewers since the Victorian era.”

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs said: “Our ambitious Plan for Water sets out the increased investment, tougher enforcement and tighter regulation needed to clean up our waterways. We have recently confirmed £1.1 billion in new, accelerated investment to tackle storm overflows.

“Under the Environment Act, water companies must improve transparency by reporting on discharges from storm overflows in near real-time by March 2025.”\

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.