Dodgy drains routinely polluting environment

The drains of as many as one in five homes and businesses are illegally connected so that they carry dirty water straight into rivers, lakes and the aquifer according to the Environment Agency.

This shocking statistic has been revealed in a wider report on diffuse water pollution, The Unseen Threat to Water Quality, and highlights that widespread contamination of storm drains is a rife.

“Wrong connections of washing machines are common but we also know of cases where entire housing and industrial estates have been incorrectly connected to the drainage system, discharging used dirty water and sewage into surface water drains which go straight to our rivers and groundwaters,” said Tricia Henton, the EA’s director of environment protection

“Resolving the problem of drains wrongly connected to surface water sewers requires homeowners, builders and plumbers to take more care, and for building regulations to be enforced.

“We would like to see the introduction of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) in the building of new homes and becoming a common feature of urban design. SUDs can reduce and intercept pollution by slowing down rainfall run-off in soakways, permeable surfaces, ponds and wetlands.

“They also help clean the water before it drains into rivers or groundwater. We will continue to work with central and local government to promote the use of SUDS.

“As well as SUDs we want to see simple checks for wrong drainage connections in the new house seller’s pack accepted, this would help to raise awareness of the problem and reduce its impact.”

The report looks at how diffuse pollution is affecting rivers, lakes, groundwaters, estuaries and coastal waters in England and Wales.

Diffuse pollution occurs when chemicals or other contaminates disperse onto land or into water. It is most visible after rainfall and can take hours, days or years to manifest itself.

Diffuse pollution comes from both rural and urban environments and can include, run-off from roads contaminated with oils and other chemicals – poor drainage from housing estates, accidental chemical and oil spills from transport and industrial sites.

It also includes, nutrients, soil and pesticides from farming.

Sam Bond

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