UNITED Utilities dumped more sewage than any other water company last year.

New figures published by the Environment Agency have revealed the number of sewage spills from storm overflows.

Storm overflows are relief points which are typically used following heavy downpours, releasing untreated sewage into rivers and seas to stop sewers from backing up into people’s homes.

In 2023 United Utilities recorded the highest number of sewage spills from monitored storm overflows with a total of 97,537.

This is up from 69,245 in 2022 and nearly 20,000 more than second-placed Yorkshire Water with 77,761.

United Utilities’ spills lasted for a total of 650,014 hours, up from 425,491 the previous year.

Again this is a country-high figure, ahead of South West Water with 530,737 hours.

United Utilities also had the highest average number of spills per storm overflow, at 45.4.

This was up from 35.1 in 2022.

Across the country, the amount of time storm overflows were spilling sewage in England was more than double the previous year.

Across England, storm overflows dumped sewage into rivers and seas for more than 3.6 million hours, more than double the hours recorded in 2022.

This results from 464,056 spills, up 54 per cent from 301,091 in 2022.

These figures have been described as 'disappointing' but 'sadly not surprising' by the EA’s director of water Helen Wakeham.

She said: “We are pleased to see record investment from the water sector, but we know it will take time for this to be reflected in spill data – it is a complex issue that won’t be solved overnight.”

Knutsford Guardian: United Utilities is looking to improve overflows in and around Northwich United Utilities is looking to improve overflows in and around Northwich (Image: Alan Bailey)

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The publication of these figures comes after United Utilities set out a 25-year plan to invest around £420 million in reducing sewer pollution across Cheshire.

As part of this, the water company will be making improvements to 63 storm overflows in the county.

By 2030, United Utilities is aiming to reduce spills in the region by 50 per cent, with the goal of having each storm overflow operate fewer than 10 times a year by 2050.

In and around Northwich, Winsford, Middlewich, Knutsford and Wilmslow, there are 12 overflows not currently meeting United Utilities' targets.

Jo Harrison, asset management director at United Utilities, said: “We are making a fundamental change to the way our sewer system has been designed and change on this scale cannot happen overnight.

"We are re-plumbing our drainage systems, building storage tanks to increase the capacity, separating rainwater out of sewers, and harnessing the power of nature to treat storm water before it is returned to the environment.

"Work has already started, and people are going to see much more of this over the next 25 years."