SWIMMING pools, even outdoor ones, may be difficult to access for a while because of the pandemic.

This is a shame, but anyone fancying a dip in a river instead this summer should first have a look at the interactive map on the Rivers Trust website. This shows the number and duration of combined sewer outflows into the river system last year in England.

In our region, Northumbrian Water generated a massive 41,311 individual spills with a total duration of over 75,000 hours!

That’s over 3,000 full days worth of effluent discharge.

Water companies are legally charged with treating sewage but can release untreated effluent through storm drains into waterways in exceptional circumstances.

However, when we pay our escalating water and sewage bills I’m sure we do not expect our utility company to have such a poor apparent record in ameliorating those circumstances. More needs to be done in terms of investing in better and more sewage treatment before effluent is released into the river environment.

It’s not like the company is hard up. The Hong Kong investment company owners collected a dividend last year of £130m. Since buying the company in 2011, the owners have raked in almost £1.2bn. From our payments!

D Duell, Durham