1,250 hours of sewage spills

RAW sewage was flushed into streams in Pucklechurch for more than a thousand hours last year, the Environment Agency says.

The agency published a map of recorded spills from combined sewer overflows (CSO), where rainwater and waste water from homes is combined and washed into waterways, and waste water treatment works. It showed that a CSO at Feltham Road in the village spilled 50 times, for a total of 441 hours, into a tributary of Feltham Brook, which in turn flows into the River Boyd, during 2023.

Pucklechurch Wastewater Treatment Works in Redford Lane spilled sewage into Feltham Brook 82 times, for a total of 815 hours.

No spills were recorded in Emersons Green or Lyde Green, although the River Frome, which passes between Downend and Frenchay on its way to Bristol’s Floating Harbour, suffered a total of 4,058 hours of spills from eight CSOs upstream in Iron Acton, Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne. A total of 520 separate spills were recorded by monitoring equipment on the stretch of river.

As the Environment Agency announced that nationally, storm overflows rose by 54% over the previous year, partly due to wet weather, Water Minister Robbie Moore said sewage pollution in rivers and streams was “unacceptable”.

Bristol Avon Rivers Trust chief executive Simon Hunter said the figures did not provide the full detail needed to show the impact spills are having on the environment, as a concentrated discharge into a small stream would have a worse effect than more diluted sewage going into a large river.

He said: “An even greater concern for me is the treated “continuous discharge” from water recycling centres, which seems to have been missed in the discussion on water industry impacts.”

Wessex Water, which is in charge of the region’s sewerage systems, said “exceptionally wet weather” was the main reason for the increase in discharges. A spokesperson said the company was spending £3 million a month to improve CSOs.