All of the sewage spills caused by storm overflows have been revealed in the North East, with the publication of the most recent data. 

The data published by the Environment Agency (EA) reveals there were 46,492 sewage spills from monitored storm overflows in the Northumbrian Water area in 2023, up from 29,697 in 2022.

The figures reveal the frequency and duration of spills from storm overflows, which dump untreated sewage into rivers and the sea, usually during heavy rainfall to stop sewers backing up, amid high levels of public concern and anger over the state of England’s waterways and beaches.

They were described as “disappointing” but “sadly not surprising” by the EA while campaigners said the scale of discharges was a “final indictment of a failing industry”.

The duration of the sewage spills had more than doubled from 1,754,921 hours in 2022 to 3,606,170 hours in 2023, the figures show.

Here are the mapped sewage spills from Northumbria Water: 

In the Northumbria Water patch, the average duration of sewage spills from monitored storm overflows indicates six hours was the average time, while the number of hours of sewage spills from monitored storm overflows amounted to  280,029 hours; up from 107,536 hours in 2022. 

Environment Agency director of water Helen Wakeham said the figures were “disappointing” but “sadly not surprising”.

“We are pleased to see record investment from the water sector, but we know it will take time for this to be reflected in spill data – it is a complex issue that won’t be solved overnight.

“No other country has the level of monitoring we do, with 100% of storm overflows in England now fitted with a monitor.

“We are better placed than ever before to hold water companies accountable – thanks to intelligence from our new whistleblower portal, our plans to expand our specialised workforce, new enforcement powers, increased water company inspections and new tools to inform our enforcement work,” she said.

The Northern Echo: A sewage spill caused by storm overflowA sewage spill caused by storm overflow

Alongside the Environment Agency's concern over the figures, campaigners have also highlighted their criticism of the most recent data. 

Giles Bristow, chief executive, Surfers Against Sewage, said: “Another year, another total s***show from the greedy, incompetent mess that is our water industry.

“With such large figures being thrown about it can be easy to become numb to the reality of the situation. But don’t fall for the spin – the deluge of s**t pouring into our rivers and seas is a generational scandal where a broken system, fuelled by greed, is causing catastrophic harm to lives, livelihoods and the natural world.

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​“With 464,056 discharges of untreated sewage last year in England, our spineless authorities must finally see the industry’s promises for the smokescreen that they are. No more stern words from lecterns and slaps on the wrist; it’s time for punishments that directly impact the industry’s bottom line and the profiteering decisions being made at the top."

Mr Bristow added: “Today's shocking figures will only fuel our fire to make 2024 the year when the tide finally turns on the sewage scandal. A cresting wave of public anger, a general election and water companies setting out their investment plans make this year a now-or-never moment for the campaign to end sewage pollution, and we’re not going to let it pass.

“We’re calling everyone to join our national day of action on Saturday 18th May where surfers, swimmers, anglers, and water lovers of all stripes will stand up in protest against the sewage polluters. This wave of paddle-out protests across the UK will show those in power, in no uncertain terms, we’re sick of your shit and you must act to end the sewage scandal now.”