After sewage was pumped into a Welsh beach, swimmers were advised to stay clear of it.

Within the last 48 hours, human waste was released from a sewer overflow at Traeth Benllech in Anglesey.

Surfers Against Sewage issued a pollution alert on a map which tracks combined sewer overflows and pollution risk forecasts.

This comes 24 hours after ministers Uturned to insist that water companies will be punished for overflowing sewage pipes 

In an effort to reduce pollution, Peers had submitted an amendment to the Environment Bill last Wednesday. The new law was rejected by Tory MPs in the Commons vote. This triggered a backlash from eco campaigners.

The House of Lords was expected to reinstate its amendment to the Bill last night – forcing ministers to backtrack.

Human waste was discharged from a sewer overflow at Traeth Benllech (pictured) on Anglesey within the last 48 hours

Within the last 48 hours, human waste was released from a sewer overflow at Traeth Benllech on Anglesey

Facing defeat in Parliament, Environment Secretary George Eustice pledged an amendment to enshrine in law a new duty ‘to ensure water companies secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows’.

On Monday, drone footage showed untreated wastewater entering a harbour from October 20-22. 

Combination sewer overflows are safety valves that pump human waste out of the sewage system into rivers and the sea during heavy rains to prevent it from backing up into homes.

They have been the topic of public debate for the past week, after Tory MPs voted down an amendment to Environment Bill that would have placed a legal obligation on water companies to prevent raw sewage being dumped into waterways.

All Conservative MPs in north Wales voted against this amendment, except Sarah Atherton, Wrexham MP who did not register to vote.

Water companies will be forced to slash the amount of sewage they pump into rivers and seas following a U-turn by ministers. It comes after video showed untreated waste pouring into Langstone Harbour in Hampshire for 49 hours (pictured)

Following a U-turn from ministers, water companies will have to cut the amount of sewage that they pump into rivers or seas. It follows video showing untreated waste pouring into Langstone Harbour (Hampshire) for 49 hours (pictured).

After a significant backlash, however, the UK Government announced yesterday that it would place legal controls on water companies that dump raw waste into rivers and seas.

Rivers Trust created an interactive map showing where the sewerage network discharges or overflows into rivers. The brown areas indicate where spillages occurred in the last 24 hours.

The larger areas are those where there have been more than 100 spills during that time.

They show sewage leakages in several major rivers of north Wales, including the Afon Difrdwy (River Dee), and Afon Conwy.

Rivers Trust advises that people not enter the water immediately downstream of these discharges, and to avoid the overflows (brown rings), especially after it rains.

People can get sick if they drink sewage-contaminated water. It can contain risk bacteria like salmonella and E.coli.

An interactive map by the Rivers Trust shows where the sewerage network discharges and overflows into rivers. The brown spots mark the locations where spills have occurred over the past 24 hours

Rivers Trust created an interactive map showing where the sewerage network discharges or overflows into rivers. The brown areas indicate where spillages occurred in the last 24 hours.

Septic water has been linked to diseases like leptospirosis, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B.

A D*r Cymru spokesperson said: ‘Our combined storm overflows (CSOs) play an essential role in stopping sewage from backing up into customers’ properties during periods of heavy rain. They release storm water into rivers and the sea. Their operation is closely controlled by Natural Resources Wales, our regulator.

“Due the heavy rainfall in the Benllech area, Wednesday, we had to consent to a spillage by our CSO at Benllech. This is in accordance with our operating permit from NRW.

“We are committed being open and transparent about our spill data, and provide real-time information on spilled beaches, including Benllech, for interested groups to notify us of a potential spillage.” 

Last week’s footage showed untreated sewage being released by Southern Water’s Budds Farm treatment facility. It was a 7-foot wide outfall into Langstone Harbour. Langstone Harbour is a conservation area in Hampshire.

According to the Environment Agency, more than 400,000 litres of untreated sewage were pumped into rivers and coastal waters in England in the past year. 

CORNWALL: The Red River is turned a disgusting brown colour thanks to sewage

CORNWALL – The sewage has made the Red River a brownish-brown color.

NORFOLK: The water looks filthy as pollution flows into the River Gaywood

NORFOLK: The river Gaywood is polluted and the water looks dirty

BOGNOR: Floating sewage off the coast of the West Sussex seaside town of Bognor Regis

BOGNOR: Floating waste off the coast of Bognor Regis, a West Sussex seaside resort

HAMPSHIRE: A pipe, pictured running through the water left, pumps out waste

HAMPSHIRE: A pipe is pictured running through the water left to pump out waste

The Government’s move, although a major climbdown, still did not go quite as far as the rebels wanted. They wanted to see a total elimination of sewage discharge, but ministers said this would be unaffordable – costing up to £600billion.

Instead a compromise has been reached – a reduction in sewage discharge rather than its total elimination. 

Despite this, critics accuse the water industry of paying large dividends and salaries to foreign investors and private equity.

Activists have claimed the billions of pounds that companies have handed out in dividends and executive pay packets in recent years should have been spent upgrading the country’s Victorian sewers.

Since the sector was privatised in 1989 companies have paid out close to £60billion in investor handouts – close to £2billion per year, according to research from the University of Greenwich.

This map from Surfers Against Sewage, part of its Safer Seas and Rivers Service, tracks real-time combined sewage overflows and pollution risk forecasts, and monitors the water quality at over 400 locations around UK rivers and coastlines

Surfers Against Sewage has created this map as part of its Safer Seas and Rivers Service. It tracks real-time combined sewage flows and forecasts pollution risks. It also monitors the water quality at more 400 locations around the UK’s rivers and coastlines.

Surfers during a protest in the water near Bournemouth Pier. The beach was one of several beauty spots along the south coast of England where human waste was spilled

Surfers protesting in the water near Bournemouth Pier This beach was just one of many beauty spots on the south coast of England that had human waste.

The bosses of the UK’s leading water companies scooped £13million in pay and bonuses last year, despite their firms discharging raw sewage into England’s rivers 400,000 times.

Six of the UK’s nine main water and sewage companies are owned by investment groups based offshore.    

Peers supported by 213 votes to 60 majority 153 a move to put a new legal obligation on water companies to take all reasonable measures’ to prevent sewage releases.

This allows the Environment Bill to be sent back to the Commons where the Government will table its own amendment and will put a legal duty on utility firms to ‘secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows’.

Luke Pollard, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, stated that Defra was forced to make the change because of ‘public outcry’ and not out of care for environment. He said that ‘this screeching turn will do little to convince people that the health or our rivers, rather then the health of Conservative polling is at the forefront ministers’ minds’. 

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for rural affairs Tim Farron said Conservative MPs had ‘arrogantly ploughed on with supporting a law they knew would do nothing to protect our treasured rivers’, adding they ‘owe their constituents an apology’.  

What are the current laws regarding sewage being released into rivers or the sea by water companies? 

Britain’s sewer system is still largely Victorian and becomes overwhelmed by excessive rainwater.  

Water companies are allowed to release rainwater and a smaller amount untreated sewage directly into rivers and seas to stop waste back up in homes and streets.

However, environmentalists believe that better infrastructure like storage tanks at treatment facilities or nature-based solutions such as tree-planting can be used to tackle this problem.

Figures show that over 400,000 sewage overflows’ occurred in English waters last yea, lasting a total 3.1 million hours compared to 293,000 in 2019.

The WWF suggested that water companies “rely on sewer overflows as a way to compensate for under-capacity”. 

After treatment, waste water is usually released to the environment, either out to sea via long sea outfalls or coastal discharges or into rivers. 

The House of Lords had introduced the proposed amendment to Government’s Environment Bill into legislation, but MPs voted against it. 

The amendment aimed to clean up rivers by placing a new duty on water companies to reduce raw sewage discharges into rivers.