Quality of Norfolk's rivers in the spotlight

The Gaywood River off Swan lane in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop

The Gaywood River off Swan Lane in King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

A councillor is calling for sewage discharges into a Norfolk river to be investigated.

It comes as county councillors get set to discuss the health of our waterways.

Anglian Water says it has clear plans to make improvements.

Rob Colwell, who represents Gaywood South, said Anglian Water figures showed that in 2021, a sewer storm overflow spilled 159 times for a total of 3,563 into the Gaywood River. He said parts of the river were now "devoid of life".

"There are several problem points on the river," he said. "I've noticed it more and more since lockdown. I live in Gaywood and I regularly walk along the river."

Gaywood River

Councillor Rob Colwell beside the Gaywood River - Credit: Submitted

Last year, actor Stephen Fry signed a petition calling for the Gaywood River, which runs near his childhood home, to be restored.

The state of Norfolk's rivers will come under the spotlight when county councillors meet next week.

They'll hear calls for "urgent enforcement" to curb sewage discharges and for more transparency from water companies.

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A motion proposed by Liberal Democrats Tim Adams and Mr Colwell says the council agreed in 2019 to call on the government to "fast track" legislation to protect and improve waterways, backed up by monitoring and enforcement.

That year the Environment Agency said 8pc of the region's rivers met a good ecological status, the motion goes on, adding: "Now we find out that in 2020 Anglian water had 180,326 hours of storm overflows that had discharged sewage into local rivers."

The motion also requests the leader writes to the chief executive of Anglian Water "to ask that the information on how often they use storm overflow discharge is made publicly available on a regular basis".

Anglian Water said: "As part of our recently launched Get River Positive commitment we’ve set out a clear plan and demonstrable action in response to calls for a revival of rivers in England. 

"Central to the pledges is to ensure that storm overflows are not the reason for unhealthy rivers in our region by 2030.

"A key part of this is to be open and transparent about our performance, by making sure that information about our operations is easily accessible. Our plan is to have this data available by 2023."