A CSO with wetwipes clinging to the bars

Raw Sewage in our Rivers

Sewage is discharged into rivers across the UK and Ireland on a daily basis. This isn’t an isolated problem; it occurs up and down the country, affecting urban city centre rivers and pristine chalk streams alike.

We want to help you find out where sewage is discharged into rivers, enabling you to make informed decisions about where you swim, paddle, catch and play. Our map below shows where the sewerage network discharges and overflows into rivers. Be warned: you might not like what you discover!

Is there sewage in your local river?

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At The Rivers Trust, we believe that people should be able to swim, paddle, catch and play without worrying about sewage pollution. That’s why we launched Together for Rivers: an ambitious campaign which hopes to see designated bathing waters introduced to well-used rivers in the UK.

Our hopes of bathing water status in rivers aren’t all that outlandish, either; campaigners at Ilkley have succeeded in securing bathing water status for their local river – a first in England. With enough support, we believe more and more rivers could be given bathing water status, helping to improve rivers for people and wildlife.

Until cleaner rivers become a reality, we will continue to fight for public access to data on sewage pollution. That’s why we created our Sewage Map, which gives details on the location and spill duration of CSOs across England and Wales.

If you’d like to learn more about sewage pollution, check out our ‘Sewage in our Rivers’ report below.

What does the public think?

We asked over 1000 people how they use rivers recreationally and how this might change if rivers were cleaner. Dive into the data and read our Sewage Report to learn more.


Our story so far

We’ve already seen some fantastic progress towards cleaner rivers—and it’s all thanks to you.

In 2020, the #EndSewagePollution Coalition worked closely with the MP Philip Dunne to draft The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill. In short, the Bill was intended to place a duty on water companies to ensure untreated sewage is no longer discharged into England’s rivers—but we needed the public’s support.

As always, you didn’t let us down! 40,000 of you signed the #EndSewagePollution petition, helping to demonstrate the demand for cleaner rivers. It didn’t end there, though; we needed to ensure that MPs would support the Sewage Bill as it passed through Parliament. Again, we turned to you for support – this time in calling on MPs to demand better for rivers. Nearly 5000 of you got behind our cause, and as a result, over 130 MPs pledged to support the Sewage Bill in Parliament.

Did your MP pledge to support the Bill? Find out using our interactive map below.

Report an environmental incident

While you’re out, if you spot a pollution incident, any illegal activity or anything else, please report it immediately to the authorities.

These hotlines are open 24 hours a day:

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland: 0800 80 70 60

Wales: Natural Resources Wales hotline: 0300 065 3000

Ireland: EPA Headquarters: 053 916 0600 / Lo-Call Number: 1890 33 55 99*

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