Water supply companies are accused of failing to control how much sewage is pumped into the sea.
According to Environment Agency data analyzed by the Liberal Democrats, sewage monitors installed by UK water companies were not working “90% of the time” or were not installed at all.
Dozens of pollution warnings have been put up at beaches and bathing spots in England and Wales this week after heavy rain overwhelmed sewage systems, leading to water companies dumping sewage into the environment.
Ministers are under pressure to clamp down on water companies criticized for failing to invest money back into Britain’s aging water infrastructure.
Boris Johnson’s father Stanley has blamed his son’s administration for the sewage problem.
In an interview with the Prime Minister’s sister, Rachel Johnson, on LBC radio, Stanley Johnson said: “We have to blame the government for not pressing this issue as hard as it should have.
“In the absence of EU pressure, you can understand how the government felt unable to push this thing as it should have.”
Figures show Anglian Water has the highest failure rate, with 49% of all sewage discharges not being measured due to faulty or missing monitors, according to the Liberal Democrats.
South West Water followed with 30% and Severn Trent Water with 29%.
One of South West Water’s eight sewage monitors installed at designated bathing areas in Cornwall and Devon is either faulty or not installed, the party has said.
In Sussex, Southern Water was found to have failed to install one at all at the popular seaside location of Littlehampton Pier, while one in Seaford only worked a third of the time.
Figures show a huge rise in the amount of sewage entering the UK’s waterways and seas
Liberal Democrat spokesman Tim Farron MP said: “These water companies could be guilty of gross negligence by failing to install sewer monitors.
“This is a national scandal and these new figures reek of a cover-up. Britain’s seaside resorts are inundated with dirty sewage, but the government is nowhere to be found.’
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In response to the issue, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a response earlier this week outlining the measures it is taking.
Water Minister Steve Double said: “We are the first government to take action to tackle sewage overflows.
“We have been clear that water companies’ reliance on overflows is unacceptable and they need to significantly reduce the amount of waste water they discharge as a priority.
“This is in addition to the ambitious action we have already taken, including a consultation on water quality targets, which will act as a powerful tool to deliver cleaner water, pushing all water companies to go further and faster to fix leaks.
“The work to deal with the sewage spill continues apace and we will publish our plan as required by law by the September 1st deadline.”
An Anglian Water spokesman said: “After investing more than £300m over the last decade, all but three of the bathing sites in our region are rated good or excellent for bathing water quality and all have EDM monitors installed.
“The work to install EDM monitors on all CSOs (combined sewer overflows) in our region is ahead of schedule under our National Environmental Water Management Program agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We will have full coverage of all CSOs by the end of 2023.”
Southern Water, South West Water and Severn Trent Water have been asked to comment.