SNP calls for more monitoring of water quality amid sewage spills

Sewage spills pose risks to wildlife and swimmers

A resolution at the SNP’s annual conference, held in Aberdeen, urged the Scottish Government to increase the availability of data to the environmental watchdog SEPA. The resolution was backed by delegates who expressed concerns over the impact of untreated sewage “gushing” into rivers, lochs and seas on wildlife and swimmers.

Sewage spills increased by 40% in recent years

Dawn Black, of the SNP Stonehaven and Mearns Branch, told the gathering that during 2022 at least 14,000 sewage spills directly into rivers, lochs and seas had been reported. She said the number of sewage spills had also increased by 40% in recent years, but only 3% of Scotland’s storm overflows are monitored. She also said there were high levels of sewage related litter on beaches.

Sewage spills affect ecosystems and human health

Black said sewers are being blocked by wet wipes, cooking fat and other debris, causing untreated sewage to overflow into rivers during heavy rains. She said this affects wildlife such as otters, beavers, osprey, heron and sea birds that live off the fish in these waters. She also said wild swimmers are being exposed to high levels of sewage related bacteria that pose health risks. She cited an example of Eyemouth beach where samples taken last July showed levels of bacteria deemed by the EU to be of high risk to bathers.

snp conference water quality sewage spills

SNP commits to raising water quality standards

Black said it was important to note that 66% of Scotland’s water bodies are deemed to be in “good ecological condition” and the Scottish Government had committed to increasing this to 81% by 2027. But she said it was important not to “rest on our laurels” and commit to raising standards further.

SNP urges more investment in monitoring and modelling

The resolution asked the Scottish Government to invest further in the monitoring and modelling by Scottish Water by making more data available to SEPA. It also asked for more sewage overflow monitors and increased capacity in SEPA to react to spillages. Black said: “We need our waters to be clean for the sake of the environment, for the sake of our wildlife and for the sake of an independent Scotland where clean waters will be essential for our health and wellbeing economy.”

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By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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