Sewage spills rise: 21,660 “disgusting” sewage dumps in 2023

27 Mar 2024
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today demanded that the SNP and Greens stop defending outdated sewage standards as new Scottish Water figures revealed a 10% increase in the number of sewage dumps in 2023.

The figures published this morning by the government-owned water company show that in 2023 alone:

  • 21,660 discharges were logged, up from 19,676 incidents in 2022
  • Sewage was dumped for a total of 221,002 hours in 2023 – more than 600 hours a day.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced plans for a Clean Water Act which would see:

  • Scotland’s Victorian sewage network updated;  
  • Every sewage dump monitored and published with binding targets for their reduction;  
  • A blue flag system for Scotland’s rivers;    
  • A complete ban on the release of sewage in protected areas such as bathing waters.  

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

“It is disgusting to learn sewage is being dumped into our waterways 59 times a day.

“Even that figure is likely to be a significant underestimate because only a small fraction of sewer overflows are monitored. Scotland is way behind England where nearly every overflow is monitored.

"To make matters worse, while our rivers, lochs and coastlines are destroyed, customers are facing huge price rises from the government-owned water company and its executives are pocketing bumper bonuses.

“SNP and Green ministers must stop being spin doctors for these outdated sewage standards and get tough with the government-owned water company.

“To turn the tide on this scandal, Scottish Liberal Democrats have published plans for a Clean Water Act that would see vital updates to our sewage network and a clamp down on discharges."