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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Regulatory Position Statement on wastewater treatment

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On Monday 6 September, the Environment Agency issued a Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) covering the use of one of the chemicals – ferric sulphate – which is used by water and sewerage companies to treat wastewater.

The purpose of the RPS is to minimise the impact on the environment should unavoidable delays in the delivery of ferric sulphate in the coming weeks due to a shortage of HGV drivers.

Ferric sulphate is used in the final stage of sewage treatment in certain areas to reduce levels of phosphorus. Primary and secondary treatment of wastewater will not be affected; this is not a case of untreated sewage being discharged.

This time-limited RPS requires water companies to prioritise discharges to protect the most sensitive and high-risk locations, using a risk assessment process designed by the Environment Agency.  Strict conditions apply to this position statement. Treatment may only be temporarily ceased after the Environment Agency has agreed in writing that companies have met the criteria and can demonstrate a low environmental impact.  This means that the most sensitive and high-risk watercourses will not be affected.

No companies have requested to use the RPS yet. The Government is also continuing to work closely with water companies on this issue, with steps already taken such as extending delivery hours outside of standard operating times.

A Government spokesperson said:

This action is strictly time-limited and there are robust conditions in place to mitigate risks to the environment. The most sensitive and high-risk watercourses will not be affected and any company planning to make use of this short-term measure must first agree its use with the Environment Agency, which will be checking compliance.

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  1. Comment by MR GUY T FORREST-HAY posted on

    It will just be a green light for water companies to further push back the investment they are obligated to make - and they are massively delayed anyway. Not helpful for the supply chain as the Water Companies sit on the money.

  2. Comment by John W. Baxter posted on

    To my knowledge the EA had designated compliance issues be monitored by the water companies for many years,which goes some way to explaining the terrible condition of many of our watercourses subject to waste water discharges.
    I find it incredible that delivery parameters have been placed around chemical treatment deliveries and even more so in a crisis.......any time is a good time to deliver necessary materials to protect the health of our watercourses.

  3. Comment by Mick Desmond Walters posted on

    Yet more nonsense from defra.

  4. Comment by alan wightman posted on

    Hot Air! Not Waste Water!