Illegal sewage discharges throw spanner in water privatisation works

The Government's plan to privatise the water authorities has been plunged into serious difficulty by the widespread non-compliance of the authorities' sewage treatment works with their discharge consents. Ministers have been warned that privatisation may not succeed unless the authorities are freed from the risk of private prosecution for discharging excessive effluent loads.

The problem has come to a head because the authorities have made such slow progress in bringing their discharges within consent limits set by the Department of the Environment (DoE). In 1986, 956 (21.9%) of the 4,355 discharges with numerical consents exceeded their limits (ENDS Report 146, pp 14-16). Last year, despite higher capital spending on sewage treatment, the figure improved to only 867 (20.5%) out of a total of 4,226 discharges at wh

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