Scottish EPA calls for investment in sewage

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is calling for increased levels of investment in sewage treatment, sewerage infrastructure and improved urban drainage.

SEPA says that despite planned spending for implementation of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, sewage will remain one of the primary causes of pollution in Scotland in 2010.

The warning is contained in a new report, Improving Scotland’s Water Environment, which describes plans to improve riverine and coastal water quality by 2005.

SEPA Director of Environmental Strategy, Tricia Henton said: “We intend to achieve major improvements in Scotland’s water environment and we have set national improvement targets for rivers, estuaries and coastal waters. Our first targets have been set for the year 2000. We are also setting provisional targets for 2005.”

The report states that more than 4,000km of Scottish river ways are polluted. The agency says it will work to achieve a 20% reduction in the length of poor quality and seriously polluted rivers by the end of 2000, and will aim to increase this to a 45% reduction by the end of 2005.

In addition to river pollution, 250km of coastal and 31.5km² of estuarine waters have also been classed as polluted. SEPA has set similar targets for the coast, with a 50% improvement by 2005.

Colin Bayes, SEPA’s head of water policy said: “Sewage effluent is the main cause of water pollution in Scotland. An historic legacy of under-investment has left the public sector with a list of poorly-treated sewage discharges and sewers which are at or beyond their hydraulic capacity.”

Virtually all sewage pollution identified by SEPA comes from the public sewerage network. The agency says 1,000km of rivers are polluted by STW discharges and 300km by discharges from CSOs.

The majority of funding required to deal with existing sewage pollution must come from the three publicly-owned water authorities which raise the bulk of their funds from charges on domestic, commercial and trade effluent.

SEPA stressed that all these sources of pollution affect rivers, lochs and coastal waters close to urban centres which potentially have high amenity and recreational value.

Tricia Henton said: “The Scottish Parliament will introduce some major changes to the political decision making process in Scotland. SEPA will ensure it provides enough objective information on Scotland’s environment for the Parliament to successfully complete its functions.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie