sh.t in Rivers

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plodder
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sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:31 am

There’s currently a lot of controversy about the new Environment Bill which has been watered down considerably wrt the ongoing use and regulation of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).

Great that people are alert to the general issue (excess stormwater in sewers is diverted into rivers rather than backing up to flood people’s homes) but not so great that there’s still little understanding of the cause of the problem and what the solutions are (often cheap and cheerful IMO - improved SUDS aren’t even on the agenda for example).

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Wed Oct 27, 2021 9:37 am

The media appears to be in full on "people are outraged! Let's provide some twitter links" mode, whilst the government is in "the solutions will cost one treeellion dollars" mode. You're right, I haven't seen any discussion at all in the media, in depth, of the reasons for it, and what the solutions look like, either short or long term.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by jimbob » Wed Oct 27, 2021 10:53 am

This is the bit that the Commons voted to remove that got all the attention:


https://bills.parliament.uk/publication ... uments/802
141A Duty on sewerage undertakers to take all reasonable steps to
ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows
(1) A sewerage undertaker must demonstrate improvements in the
sewerage systems and progressive reductions in the harm caused
by untreated sewage discharges.
(2) The Secretary of State, the Director and the Environment Agency
must exercise their respective functions under this and any other
Act to secure compliance with this duty.
Lots of the other amendments that were voted down look to be of the "We're going to do that anyway, so it's unnecessary to put it into law" which raises the question to me as to why vote against it then.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by sheldrake » Wed Oct 27, 2021 10:54 am

I don't understand the changes this bill introduces. A ready explainer welcome. Is the anger that the bill didn't change the status quo, or something else?

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by jimbob » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:20 am

A lot of the anger is that those 7 lines were removed
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:24 am

Some explanation of the issue here https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/blog/tim-ferre ... d-solution

The issue is combining rainwater with sewage in ancient infrastructure that can't cope with new climate extremes. It'll need some investment to solve.

The government has been trying to protect water companies from being obliged to stop dumping sh.t in rivers. Campaigners would prefer them to do their job properly.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:36 am

water companies can currently discharge untreated effluent under licence, ie they can do so in the event of extreme rainfall or they risk enforcement action from the EA. In reality (due to under-investment) they discharge even after very small amounts of rainfall - over 400,000 separate occasions last year - and the EA is so threadbare it cannot investigate or prosecute except on very rare occasions.

The current Environment Bill (following a Lords amendment) was going to strengthen the requirement to limit these discharges, but the Gov removed this change once it was back in the commons. They’ve proposed a kick it into the long grass, perhaps we need a report option as an alternative which is to my mind wholly unacceptable.

The issue is well understood enough for the gov to be bandying about assumed costs to fix this, which means solutions are already on the table, which means the problem is already pretty well understood which means a report won’t add much value.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Gfamily » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:38 am

As has been commented elsewhere, one of the justifications for privatising the water industry was to allow the capital expenditure of the amounts needed to upgrade the water supply and sewage system.
As also claimed, there has been something like a £50 - £60 billion disbursement of dividends to shareholders.

How much would have been spent on the required works if the industry had remained in public ownership is unknown.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by dyqik » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:41 am

Separating storm drains and sewers is something that's been pretty heavily worked on here* in the past 10 years.

Of course, our sewer and water systems are all publicly owned...

*eastern Mass.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:42 am

Gfamily wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:38 am
As has been commented elsewhere, one of the justifications for privatising the water industry was to allow the capital expenditure of the amounts needed to upgrade the water supply and sewage system.
As also claimed, there has been something like a £50 - £60 billion disbursement of dividends to shareholders.

How much would have been spent on the required works if the industry had remained in public ownership is unknown.
Couple of things to consider: would the Chancellor have been tempted to raid the funds available to Water Cos (as happened pre-privatisation, you’d still need a properly funded regulator, you’d still have lots of different organisations contributing towards the problem without owning a shared solution (farmers, town planners, highways and drainage authorities, residents, property developers, regulators, water companies etc)

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:42 am

dyqik wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:41 am
Separating storm drains and sewers is something that's been pretty heavily worked on here* in the past 10 years.

Of course, our sewer and water systems are all publicly owned...

*eastern Mass.
Land is the big complicating factor in the UK.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:13 pm

plodder wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:36 am
water companies can currently discharge untreated effluent under licence, ie they can do so in the event of extreme rainfall or they risk enforcement action from the EA. In reality (due to under-investment) they discharge even after very small amounts of rainfall - over 400,000 separate occasions last year - and the EA is so threadbare it cannot investigate or prosecute except on very rare occasions.

The current Environment Bill (following a Lords amendment) was going to strengthen the requirement to limit these discharges, but the Gov removed this change once it was back in the commons. They’ve proposed a kick it into the long grass, perhaps we need a report option as an alternative which is to my mind wholly unacceptable.

The issue is well understood enough for the gov to be bandying about assumed costs to fix this, which means solutions are already on the table, which means the problem is already pretty well understood which means a report won’t add much value.
Yes, lack of knowledge isn't the issue, it's lack of political will, as usual.

It's good to see the popular outcry though. Turns out there is a level of allowing private companies to pollute with impunity that people in the UK won't tolerate.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:17 pm

plodder wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:42 am
dyqik wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:41 am
Separating storm drains and sewers is something that's been pretty heavily worked on here* in the past 10 years.

Of course, our sewer and water systems are all publicly owned...

*eastern Mass.
Land is the big complicating factor in the UK.
If black water was separate from storm water and even grey water I don't think there would be such a problem with the current dumping strategy. Folks really don't like to see turds floating about.

But it would be better to use some of it to restore wetlands, neatly helping with the 30% nature restoration target plus a bit of carbon sequestration to boot.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by sTeamTraen » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:24 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:17 pm
Folks really don't like to see turds floating about.
Not wanting to be a contrarian on this, but: Do (whole) turds actually float about? The other day I forgot to flush(*) and when I discovered this a couple of hours later I had the impression that half of my "faecal pellet" had already separated into very small pieces. So I doubt if it's more than slurry after half a day in the river.

(*) I have got into the habit of putting the lid down first and it's one of those slow-lower ones, so I went to wash my hands to optimise the 3-second lowering period, and by the time I'd hummed "God Save Jacob Rees Mogg" a couple of times, I'd forgotten about the loo.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:41 pm

I've seen pictures of turds floating about in rivers on Twitter.

But yes, they often break down to a still-identifiable smelly brown slick on the surface.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:59 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:24 pm
The other day I forgot to flush(*) and when I discovered this a couple of hours later I had the impression that half of my "faecal pellet" had already separated into very small pieces. So I doubt if it's more than slurry after half a day in the river.

(*) I have got into the habit of putting the lid down first and it's one of those slow-lower ones, so I went to wash my hands to optimise the 3-second lowering period, and by the time I'd hummed "God Save Jacob Rees Mogg" a couple of times, I'd forgotten about the loo.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by TAFKAsoveda » Wed Oct 27, 2021 1:25 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:24 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:17 pm
Folks really don't like to see turds floating about.
Not wanting to be a contrarian on this, but: Do (whole) turds actually float about? The other day I forgot to flush(*) and when I discovered this a couple of hours later I had the impression that half of my "faecal pellet" had already separated into very small pieces. So I doubt if it's more than slurry after half a day in the river.
Depends very much on composition, fattier will float more but break down, drier (mild constipation or slow bowel motility) may float but is likely to break down more slowly. Also depends on amount on non-soluble fibre.

Sorry, working in health care of older adults does lead to some odd knowledge…

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Gfamily » Wed Oct 27, 2021 1:32 pm

TAFKAsoveda wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 1:25 pm
sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:24 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:17 pm
Folks really don't like to see turds floating about.
Not wanting to be a contrarian on this, but: Do (whole) turds actually float about? The other day I forgot to flush(*) and when I discovered this a couple of hours later I had the impression that half of my "faecal pellet" had already separated into very small pieces. So I doubt if it's more than slurry after half a day in the river.
Depends very much on composition, fattier will float more but break down, drier (mild constipation or slow bowel motility) may float but is likely to break down more slowly. Also depends on amount on non-soluble fibre.

Sorry, working in health care of older adults does lead to some odd knowledge…
As an aside - the Lloyds Bank Coprolite was found in excavations of a Viking latrine in York,
20cm long and 5 cm wide,. it's survived about 1200 years.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Wed Oct 27, 2021 2:49 pm

wow.

UK design code is (from memory) about 180g / day / bum of solid material. Vast majority is formerly clean water or rainwater. It’s easy to divert water from the sewer by recycling grey water etc but there needs to be a certain amount of baseflow to mobilise the turds towards the treatment works. Otherwise they’ll just sit there being smelly.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by jimbob » Wed Oct 27, 2021 5:09 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:24 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:17 pm
Folks really don't like to see turds floating about.
Not wanting to be a contrarian on this, but: Do (whole) turds actually float about? The other day I forgot to flush(*) and when I discovered this a couple of hours later I had the impression that half of my "faecal pellet" had already separated into very small pieces. So I doubt if it's more than slurry after half a day in the river.

(*) I have got into the habit of putting the lid down first and it's one of those slow-lower ones, so I went to wash my hands to optimise the 3-second lowering period, and by the time I'd hummed "God Save Jacob Rees Mogg" a couple of times, I'd forgotten about the loo.
Yes. I remember a family camping holiday on the Mosel as a teenager and seeing one float past
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Grumble » Wed Oct 27, 2021 5:25 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:24 am
Some explanation of the issue here https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/blog/tim-ferre ... d-solution

The issue is combining rainwater with sewage in ancient infrastructure that can't cope with new climate extremes. It'll need some investment to solve.

The government has been trying to protect water companies from being obliged to stop dumping sh.t in rivers. Campaigners would prefer them to do their job properly.
One of the reasons alluded to in that link is the run-off from towns. This has got much worse in recent years, because everyone has paved over their front gardens to allow them to park their cars. What used to soak away no longer does.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by nezumi » Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:47 pm

The solution, I gather, is £150 billion to replace the sewers which is scare money. It's 3 years worth of the entire NHS. If trace and trace and etc cost 37 billion it is worth it. It could be a glorious improvement to the UK. It could be worth twice its capital expenditure in quality of life if anybody cares at all anymore, a sewer rebuild could have more potential than I can even imagine (you guys can probably see the benefits better than I can). And yet, it won't be done because politics thinkg about the next three years and we do need think more about the next 50-100.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by dyqik » Wed Oct 27, 2021 8:02 pm

nezumi wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:47 pm
The solution, I gather, is £150 billion to replace the sewers which is scare money. It's 3 years worth of the entire NHS. If trace and trace and etc cost 37 billion it is worth it. It could be a glorious improvement to the UK. It could be worth twice its capital expenditure in quality of life if anybody cares at all anymore, a sewer rebuild could have more potential than I can even imagine (you guys can probably see the benefits better than I can). And yet, it won't be done because politics thinkg about the next three years and we do need think more about the next 50-100.
Properly fixing storm drains in towns (to take account of the kind of thing Grumble mentions, plus climate change) would also save significant amounts in insurance payouts and property damage from flash flooding and similar, if we're looking for direct financial benefits to homeowners and commercial property owners.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by headshot » Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:03 am

They keep talking about storm surge as a reason for allowing the overflow…

I don’t know about where you all live, but here in the West Midlands we haven’t had much in the way of significant rain for weeks…possibly months. It’s been wet a few days, but the overwhelming trend this year has been for dry, overcast weather. I don’t really remember the last time it poured down.

So why the jeeping f.ck are the water companies having to use emergency overflow protocols? Or is that just a b.llsh.t excuse because they can’t be bothered?

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:10 am

The latter in many cases. It’s absolutely normal for infrastructure to be sweated well beyond its design life - patch repairs, new on old, “invest to save”, call it what you will - but the concept of a well understood, regularly inspected and maintained asset base with clear renewal plans is almost entirely alien to the industry. It’s far more about betting a pat on the head for reacting quickly in an emergency.

Ultimately it’s not about investment, it’s about culture.

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