Sewage island: how Britain spews its waste into the sea

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Untreated waste regularly flows into waters across England and Wales. Is it time to radically rethink sewerage – or do away with sewers altogether?

The pandemic has not been the only crisis we’ve been wading through over the past 12 months: 2020 was a banner year in much of Britain for sewage spills. Last July a Guardian investigation revealed that raw sewage had been pumped into English rivers via storm overflows more than 200,000 times in 2019. In November, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) published data showing that untreated wastewater was discharged on to English and Welsh beaches on 2,900 occasions in a year.

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