Last week, I voted to put a duty on water companies to monitor water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflow which they don’t do today, as part of the Environment Bill.

This will also give the government the power to direct water companies who fail to provide or adhere to management plans designed to reduce the release of raw sewage in storm overflows.

It’s a major step forward and a huge improvement on what is in place today.

But why can’t we just ban this practice straightaway?... Sewage discharge into our water courses has occurred for many years. I despise it, but it’s important for us to understand what would happen if we completely banned it with no emergency outlet.

Such discharge typically occurs when existing infrastructure isn’t sufficient to cope with surface water run-off during periods of heavy rain. The whole reason the emergency system of storm outflows exist is to prevent dirty water from entering properties or contaminating drinking water supplies, which when we have a Victorian water system built for a much smaller population, we have a pressure point.

If the vote went through as it was, this amendment would have likely forced complete renewal, costing billions of pounds which would have forced many water companies into bankruptcy, with a considerable cost to each of us.

My vote in the House of Commons went votes to improve the accountability of water companies to the British people, and to improve water quality for the benefit of everyone through forcing careful planning and long-term improvement to our sewage infrastructure.

But I do agree that more could have been done which is one of the reasons I hope that MPs lobbying behind the scenes will go to clamp down very hard, especially if it is found that water companies are discharging unnecessarily. It is also worth everyone noting that Parliament is doing its work and this Environment Bill has not completed its legislative path through parliament yet and it will likely have further improvements as it completes its legislative process and becomes law.

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