The meeting, which took place last Tuesday (September 20), saw members of Lancaster City Council’s cabinet meet representatives from United Utilities.
It followed concerns raised over the summer that sewage may have been discharged into Morecambe Bay.
The presentation provided a regional view of the work of the company, including details of local investment in storm water storage capacity and the doubling of the transfer capacity at the Schola Green pumping station, along with improvements to the current pipe work and remediation of faults and leaks in the system.
Various concerns were addressed, including the changes in the climate which has led to increased heavy downpours and flooding, but also hotter drier summers. As a result United Utilities has upgraded and invested in major new clean water pipework schemes which mean that the system can provide enough water even during very hot spells.
However, councillors expressed concerns about bathing water quality and the release of sewage into the sea and rivers during storm conditions. They were unanimous in saying that Lancaster and Morecambe wanted its bathing waters to be of highest possible quality.
Councillor Dave Brookes, cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said: "The presentation from United Utilities outlined the challenges it faces in operating a historic sewage system and the circumstances that can cause untreated sewage to be discharged into the Bay.
“Recent investments in the district have substantially reduced the chances of this happening during heavy and prolonged rainfall, but we know that climate change will lead to extreme weather events becoming more common, so more needs to be done.
“Another cause of sewage overflows is blocked pipes, and while new technology is being installed to monitor main sewers and spot problems early, prevention is always better than a cure, so we all have a part to play in protecting our bathing waters.
“By taking simple steps such as disposing of kitchen fats in a container in the bin rather than down the sink, and not flushing wet wipes down the toilet, we can all help to prevent blockages forming, keeping our waters clean and preserving our tourist economy.
“Even in the north-west, drought conditions are becoming increasingly likely, so it is also important to be mindful of how much water we use. Getting a water meter helps to keep tabs on this, and for many households will lead to lower bills."
Councillor Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, added: "We were all agreed that the meeting was useful and informative. However, we continue to have concerns about water quality, issues with individual flood risk areas, and improving the urban drainage systems installed for new developments. We will be inviting United Utilities back alongside the Environment Agency to answer a number of more specific questions raised by residents and businesses.”
Last updated: 27 September 2022