Could AI help clean up the UK’s rivers and beaches?
Author: Emma Weisbord
The UK government has unveiled its plan to crack down on the amount of raw sewage dumped into rivers and seas. It comes amid a public health outcry over pollution warnings and figures revealing more than 1,000 incidents a day of untreated sewage discharged into rivers in England in 2020. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is facing immense pressure to address overflow sewage pumped into rivers and seas around England and Wales. Concern for public health and the impact on biodiversity has fuelled much of the public’s ire towards the privatised water companies. DEFRA has ordered them to clean up their act and claims its new plan calls for the “strictest targets ever” for water companies to “protect people and the environment.” Utility companies are now expected to deliver what the government describes as the “largest ever environmental infrastructure investment,” amounting to £56 billion over 25 years. According to DEFRA, by “2035, water companies will have to improve all storm overflows discharging into or near every designated bathing water; and improve 75% of overflows discharging to high priority nature sites.”