Map reveals raw sewage overflow into Suffolk rivers
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
A Rivers Trust map has revealed how often raw sewage is being released into rivers around Suffolk.
The interactive map shows how many hours of sewage overflow escaped from the county's treatment plants.
It comes as an expert said England's rivers "all fail chemical standards and none are in good health" and a controversial bill is making its way through parliament.
Sewage overflow can contribute to the pollution — during periods of heavy rainfall Suffolk's sewage processing infrastructure can be overwhelmed, causing raw human waste to pour into rivers.
Data from the map shows a large amount of sewage has flooded into the River Waveney in the last year, with the storm overflow at Diss spilling on 158 occasions for a total of 455 hours.
In addition, storm overflows at Bungay and Beccles also spilled into the Waveney for 408 hours and 86 hours respectively.
There is also a substantial amount of sewage flowing into the headwaters of the Thet, with overflows at Woolpit and Badwell Ash flowing in for 306 and 1122 hours of last year.
The Deben at Woodbridge is also somewhat affected with 40 separate spills being detected, although they lasted for less than 18 hours total.
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Brendon Joyce, director of the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust, said: "This method of dealing with sewage is nothing new. In storms the treatment plants become inundated, and if they don't release it sewage will back up through the pipes into peoples homes.
"It's a Victorian system that's unsuitable for a country with heavy rainfall and flooding.
"You certainly shouldn't swim in any river after heavy rain as more sewage is washed into the river, and what pollution is already there will be mixed around."
Mr Joyce added: "Our rivers are not just polluted with effluent — agricultural run-off including fertilizers and pesticides also cause damage, as does oil and tire scraps from roads."
"Fixing the problem is down to money, awareness and promoting good practices. A lot of work is done by the Environment Agency and the water companies engaging with landowners and farmers to reduce run off.
"Private septic tanks could also have leakages, and even paved driveways can lead to worse floods."