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Ocean charity warns dumping raw sewage is a bigger issue than figures suggest

This news post is about 1 year old

More monitoring is called for

A leading ocean charity has warned Scotland's sewage network must be closely monitored to to avoid the dumping of sewage into the sea.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says there is very little official monitoring of sewage discharge despite raw sewage being dumped for 113,000 hours last year.

It believes the true figure is much more with than 4% of storm overflows are checked for spills.

Scottish Water says the country's waterways are among the cleanest in Europe.

MCS says each of the 123 monitored dumped raw sewage 114 times in 2022.

However there are some 3,617 of these overflows in Scotland.

Laura Foster, head of clean seas at the MSC, said the figures produce only a small snapshot.

"For thousands of hours each year, untreated sewage is being released straight into Scotland's seas.

"This includes into designated bathing sites as well as marine protected areas which have been specifically recognised for their environmental importance.

"The Scottish government needs to set spill reduction targets to tackle sewage pollution, for the sake of marine life, people and planet."

A Scottish Water spokesperson insisted the majority of Scotland's waterways are among the best quality in Europe, and said it was incorrect to term all discharges from storm overflows as sewage spills.

A spokesperson said. "The toilet sewage element of the water that spills is less than 1% of the total volume.

"What is spilled is largely rain water. But the overflows that spill are needed so that water doesn't back up into homes, streets, business and communities.

"These overflows represent huge volumes of rainwater being safely transferred away from homes and businesses and back safely to the environment to minimise the impacts of extreme weather."

Nathan Critchlow-Watton, head of water and planning at Sepa said: "Scotland's water quality is at its highest level ever, with 87% of our water environment rated as good or better.

“This year, Scotland also has a record-breaking number of bathing waters rated as excellent."

"Scottish Water have committed to installing monitors on every CSO discharging to a Bathing or Shellfish Water by the end of 2024, with near real-time monitoring published for all these monitored CSOs by the end 2024. Sepa will ensure this commitment is delivered."