Lake Windermere could become ‘ecologically dead’ due to amount of sewage pumped, study finds

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Lake Windermere in Cumbria could become “ecologically dead” over the next few years due to the amount of sewage pumped into the water, an activist has warned.

Matt Staniek, an environmentalist, wildlife advocate and regular visitor to the lake, has started an online petition calling for an end to the dumping of sewage into the water.

He called on the government to designate Windermere, the River Rothay and the Brathay as bathing sites, which would require the environment agency to regularly monitor the quality of the water and ensure that it is clean and safe for swimming.

Water UK, the trade body for the water industry, has also called for the creation of clean bathing areas, as the River Wharfe in Ilkley is currently the only one with this status.

“I was disgusted to find that raw sewage had been allowed to flow into Lake Windermere for 1,719 hours in 2020, as part of the overflow system at the Ambleside Waste Management Plant.” Mr Staniek said in his petition.

Algae blooms have been spotted on the surface, a sign of declining water quality, and campaigners have found evidence of dead fish and invertebrates in the water.

Lake Windermere in Cumbria could become “ecologically dead” over the next few years due to the amount of sewage pumped into the water, activists have warned. Image bank

Matt Staniek, an environmentalist, wildlife advocate and regular visitor to the lake, has started an online petition calling for an end to the dumping of sewage into the water.  Image bank

Matt Staniek, an environmentalist, wildlife advocate and regular visitor to the lake, has started an online petition calling for an end to the dumping of sewage into the water. Image bank

TEN PROPOSALS TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY

Water UK, the industry body for water companies, has come up with 10 proposals to improve UK water quality in rivers, lakes and other waterways.

A national plan for rivers – a long-term strategy for rivers involving all partners and the creation of a national plan steering group to steer progress

Protection in law – A new “Rivers Act” to ensure legal protection and fill in the gaps

Local empowerment – Provide leadership and action at the local level by building on the success of the watershed approach

Responsibility – Use the data to examine all sources of damage to rivers, challenging each sector to put concrete measures in place to tackle all obstacles to healthy rivers

Next Generation Monitoring – Work on a national monitoring platform to collect and make available data on the ecology, chemistry and public health of all rivers

Support people – Government, manufacturers and retailers must work together to transform the public’s understanding of the aquatic environment, campaigning to help consumers play their part too, especially on wet wipes and non-rinse products

Focus on nature – Integrate habitat restoration and species renewal into legislation and spending priorities

Abstraction – The government will introduce a target in the framework of the environmental bill to reduce the amount of water withdrawn for public water supply

Storm overflow – Agree on a plan to eliminate the 4% damage caused by storm overflows to English rivers

Bathing Rivers – Develop a new ‘bathing rivers’ approach to ensure safe recreational use of inland waters in every region of England

Mr Staniek says he has seen a “dramatic reduction in freshwater vegetation, a significant impact on the variety of fish species and an absence of white-legged crayfish.”

“This type of pollution has a disastrous impact on wildlife. The fauna that uses the waterways. A fauna which, if absent, can lead to the eventual death of a river, ”he said.

He says the campaign to designate Windermere as a “clean bathing spot” is an achievable goal and “will be the first step in the right direction to completely stop water pollution at a UNESCO World Heritage site. “.

I also believe that it raises awareness of the national scandal that is our rivers. Suffice it to say we have some of the worst rivers in Europe, if not the world.

The Lake District National Park Authority said it was working with partners to develop local actions to address the water quality issue, including septic tanks.

Increased tourism, lack of infrastructure and a high number of private septic tanks are some of the problems facing the lake in terms of pollution.

In particularly humid weather, waste is dumped into the water from nearby holiday homes and caravan sites, as well as through sewers and water pipes.

United Utilities, which manages wastewater treatment in the region, said it has invested £ 40 to improve the facilities, allowing them to treat “much higher volumes of wastewater at a much higher level”, which has reduces the frequency of spills into the lake.

The Environment Agency told the Guardian that regulations are enforced rigorously and that water companies know they have a duty to avoid pollution and must act quickly to correct failures and reduce damage s ‘they happen.

It’s not just Mr Staniek who is calling for stricter regulations. Other groups have said tighter controls are needed on water companies pumping sewage into lakes.

In July, Southern Water was fined £ 90million after pleading guilty to 6,971 sewage discharges, dumping it into the river and coastal waters of Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.

Christine McGourty, Managing Director of Water UK, said rivers have been in crisis for most of the past 100 years.

“And despite the progress of recent years, there is still a lot to do to meet the challenges,” she added.

“Water companies are passionate about their own role as stewards of the natural environment and are committed to playing their role,” she said.

“But what is needed is a clear and unique national plan, involving everyone – river users, customer groups, environmental charities, government, regulators as well as agriculture, highways and all sectors affecting the quality of rivers. ”

It is legal for water companies to “dump” wastewater into public waters on rare occasions in order to prevent it from entering homes and streets.

He called on the government to designate Windermere, the River Rothay and the Brathay as bathing sites, which would require the environment agency to regularly monitor the quality of the water and ensure that it is clean and safe for swimming.  Image bank

He called on the government to designate Windermere, the River Rothay and the Brathay as bathing sites, which would require the environment agency to regularly monitor the quality of the water and ensure that it is clean and safe for swimming. Image bank

This is a legal measure allowed only in exceptional circumstances, which is why Southern Water was fined earlier this year – for repeated overflows since 2015.

There is a new amendment to the Environment Bill, recently passed by the House of Lords, which imposes a new obligation on water companies to “take all reasonable steps” to ensure that untreated waste does not. are not washed up by overflows in rivers and streams.

The Rivers Trust welcomed the amendment, saying the changes will not happen overnight, but has a clear and explicit ambition for improvement.


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