At least 582,000 "sewage spills" into waterways in 2023, lasting 4,693,170 hours

A stylised map of England and Wales showing CSO locations
A Petri Dish for E.Coli

Here are all the CSOs in England, Wales & Scotland that 'overflowed' in 2023 - dumping raw or minimally treated sewage into fragile chalk streams, rivers, onto beaches and into shellfish areas

Each colour represents a different Water Company, the size of each dot relates to how long each overflow was polluting - where the monitoring is disabled we show a medium-sized dot.

The figures, supplied by the water companies themselves, understate the problem, as the data is poorly collected by the Water Companies, with monitoring defective or in many cases completely absent.

Sewage everywhere

There is sewage overflowing into rivers in almost every constituency across England and Wales. A very few miss out, simply because they don’t have any Combined Sewage Overflows. CSOs mix toilet sewage with rainwater and then discharge it into rivers, creating a horrible environment for fish and other creatures - it poisons them, and the rivers die. You'll find all sorts of unsanitary sanitary products floating downstream.

Top of The Poops - Constituencies

1. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr 97,252 hours
2. Torridge and West Devon 94,476 hours
3. Preseli Pembrokeshire 91,401 hours
4. Dwyfor Meirionnydd 85,380 hours
5. Central Devon 62,803 hours
6. Ceredigion 61,355 hours
7. Skipton and Ripon 59,238 hours
8. Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire 57,445 hours
9. Penrith and The Border 54,622 hours
10. Totnes 52,342 hours
Swimming in sewage

Most, if not actually all, of the beaches and designated coastal bathing locations around England and Wales are regular recipients of a good layer of sewage.

Accuracy Warning We use data from the water companies, but we are seeing many anomalies, that make us believe that bathing location information is quite poor. The situation is likely far worse than reported here.

Water companies have a duty to report on the summer bathing season separately, and this made grim reading in 2022. For more details check out Surfers Against Sewage Water Quality Report 2022

Top of The Poops - Beaches

1.Thames Water - Wolvercote Mill Stream 12,768 hours
2.United Utilities - New Brighton 9,606 hours
3.United Utilities - Allonby 9,270 hours
4.United Utilities - St Annes 8,200 hours
5.South West Water - PLYMOUTH HOE (EAST) 6,334 hours
6.United Utilities - Fleetwood 5,366 hours
7.Southern Water - COWES, GURNARD 5,360 hours
8.South West Water - MOTHECOMBE BEACH 5,207 hours
9.Southern Water - SANDOWN, WHITECLIFF BAY, YAVERLAND, SHANKLIN 4,000 hours
10.United Utilities - Seascale 3,982 hours
Rivers & Streams

Of the 4700 rivers in England, few escape from sewage dumping

On the image, you can see a map, in blue of all the rivers that escaped sewage in 2023, and in brown all the rivers that received more than 24 hours of sewage dumps.

The 1100 or so rivers in Wales didn't escape, unfortunately, but Dwr Cymru don't include the information in their reports to enable us to draw the map very easily. Perhaps they will include it in 2023?

Top of The Poops - Rivers

1.Yorkshire Water - River Calder 32,732 hours
2.Wessex Water - River Avon 32,577 hours
3.Severn Trent Water - River Severn 30,236 hours
4.Yorkshire Water - River Aire 29,458 hours
5.Dwr Cymru Welsh Water - River Teifi 28,371 hours
6.South West Water - Unknown 28,279 hours
7.Yorkshire Water - River Ouse 27,386 hours
8.United Utilities - River Tame 25,484 hours
9.Yorkshire Water - River Wharfe 23,120 hours
10.Dwr Cymru Welsh Water - River Tawe 22,776 hours
A map of England and Wales showing major rivers
Sewage in the food chain?

Shellfish are sensitive to the quality of water that surrounds them, and as they filter the water, they can become contaminated with bacteria from the water around them.

Top of The Poops - Shellfish

1.South West Water - Teign 21,123 hours
2.South West Water - Fal Estuary 16,688 hours
3.South West Water - Exe 16,111 hours
4.South West Water - Dart 11,922 hours
5.Southern Water - CHICHESTER HARBOUR (CHICHESTER 7,602 hours
6.South West Water - Taw/Torridge 6,923 hours
7.South West Water - Tamar 5,981 hours
8.South West Water - Salcombe 5,515 hours
9.Southern Water - SOUTHAMPTON WATER 5,190 hours
10.Southern Water - RYDE 4,927 hours

Top of the Poops in the Media

Article image for The Times
The Times

Bosses of polluting water companies face ban on bonuses

Feb 11, 2024

Article image for The Times
The Times

Clean It Up campaign one year on: what progress has been made?

Feb 11, 2024

Article image for Verso
Verso

Talking shit

Sep 26, 2023

Article image for Dorset Eye
Dorset Eye

Wimborne’s First Ever Human Poo Chain - Dorset Eye

Sep 4, 2023

Article image for Thames21
Thames21

Combined sewer overflows, explained - Thames21

Aug 9, 2023

Article image for the Guardian
the Guardian

Yorkshire Water ad ridiculed over clips of Herefordshire and Russian bar

Jul 26, 2023

Article image for Yorkshire Bylines
Yorkshire Bylines

Profits over pollution: why Britain is losing its battle to save its rivers

May 30, 2023

Article image for Bradford District Green Party
Bradford District Green Party

Yorkshire Water should be apologising for higher bills

May 30, 2023

Data Sources & Accuracy

EDM (Event Duration Monitoring) data and Consented Discharges to Controlled Waters with Conditions from Environment Agency & Data Map Wales, and Scottish Water

Experimental derived data from Thames Water API, Some data may be missing or inaccurate. This uses Environment Agency rainfall data from the real-time data API (Beta) - Rainfall data is delayed by up to two days.

This website is intended to provide an accurate representation of the Environment Agency data. The data is hard to use, and thus some errors may have been made. If you find something that is incorrect, please raise an issue at the GitHub issues page and we'll endeavour to fix it quickly.

This project is not associated, approved or endorsed by any of the companies whose logos you see here.