Fears of sewage being dumped into freshwater rivers have been explained.

There were concerns about high levels of “spills” from storm overflows which sparked worries that sewage would be discharged into rivers.

But now the water company has revealed that the concerns were sparked by false data readings.

One reading from Anglian Water had a storm overflow discharging into the river Stour near Sudbury 366 times in 2019.

Another was recorded as discharging into the Ely Ouse 366 times in 2019.

Both rivers supply a large amout of water to Hanningfield and Abberton reservoirs.

Combined sewer overflow (CSO) is the discharge of a combination of stormwater and domestic sewage wastewater caused by sewer capacity being exceeded during heavy storms.

Much of the UK network of CSOs dates back to Victorian times.

However, concerns that raw sewage in Ely and Sudbury may be regularly discharged into rivers that ultimately supply reservoirs have been discounted.

An Anglian Water spokesperson said. “The high number of storm spills from Ely and Sudbury works was caused by data error. This caused false readings when the storm tanks were not actually overflowing. This data issue has now been resolved and we have seen only two short spills in the last month at Ely and no spills at Sudbury.

“We have been aware of the issue with the monitors since their installation and we have been working hard to fix it. Several different monitors have been installed throughout the year until we have found the right one to give us accurate data.

“We have been liaising with the Environment Agency throughout this process regarding the false readings, and remain determined to get it right and ensure accurate data is reported in the future.

“We take our environmental obligations very seriously, investing tens of millions of pounds every year protecting and improving our countryside. In the last 30 years, we have spent £375million tackling flooding from overloaded sewers.

“CSOs act as pressure relief valves to protect homes and businesses from flooding when it rains heavily. Because of the job they do, we know the majority of what comes out of them is rainwater, not raw sewage.

“Sewers have not been built like this for years. Where evidence shows they cause environmental harm we replace them, but a discharge from a CSO does not automatically equate to pollution or environmental harm. Currently we have no CSOs deemed to be unsatisfactory by the Environment Agency. ”

Epping Forest Guardian:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.