WQ83700 (e) Tabled on 25/10/2021

What action is the Welsh Government taking to prevent untreated sewage from being discharged into rivers and the sea as a result of storm overflows?

Answered by Minister for Climate Change | Answered on 29/10/2021

The Welsh Government collaborated with the water industry, regulators and UK and devolved Governments via the 21st Century Drainage Programme, to develop a framework, guidance and methodology for water companies to improve long-term planning for drainage and wastewater management. The programme secured agreement on a framework for Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans (DWMPs), which includes technical guidance, evidence gathering, consultation with partners and the wider community. This will form the basis for DWMPs being put on a statutory footing in Wales.

As a first step, water companies in Wales are preparing DWMPs on a non-statutory basis. These will be published for public consultation in 2022 .They will help identify where investment should be prioritised, and the best method to do this. Collaboration between local authorities, land owners, and the water companies will be key to delivering these plans and improving water quality to which the Welsh Government is committed.

As part of this programme of work, the water companies have adopted the Storm Overflow Assessment Framework (SOAF) and have allocated over £30 million to reduce discharges and prevent environmental harm. NRW will ensure this investment is targeted appropriately as well as ensuring the framework aligns with the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources principles, as set out in the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.

The Programme for Government commits us to improving inland waters and strengthening river water quality monitoring. We need to consider all pressures on our waters and are adopting a multi-sector approach to secure sustainable solutions which deliver not only the water quality improvements we need but also positive outcomes on biodiversity, net zero and climate adaptation.