Pure tap water gets priority over foul rivers

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT is allowing the water industry to renege on commitments to clean hundreds of miles of inland rivers polluted with raw sewage, writes Nicholas Schoon.

The Department of the Environment says implementing European directives to improve drinking water and coastal sewage disposal must take priority in competing for limited resources. Modernisation of Victorian sewage collection systems which routinely foul rivers will have to proceed more slowly in order to slow the rapid and unpopular rise in water bills.

The untreated sewage has left long stretches of bank in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North-west strewn with used contraceptives and sanitary towels. Fish can barely survive in rivers such as the Tame, the Don and the Mersey.

Ten per cent of the length of inland rivers of England and Wales is classed as 'poor' or 'bad' by the National Rivers Authority; elderly sewers and inadequate treatment works are largely to blame.

Rivers of filth, page 3

Leading article, page 13

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