As I write this, Rain from Storm Kathleen is lashing down across Ludlow. The immediate concern is localised flooding and, later on as the water continues to pour off fields and arrives from Wales, river flooding. There is almost certainly something else happening. Sewage will be flowing into the Teme, and possible the Corve.

In 2023, there were 1,382 hours of spillage, equivalent to 58 days, into our two rivers. Although some politicians have blamed this on 2023 being a very wet year, there were equivalent levels of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in Ludlow in 2021. Discharges were much reduced in 2022 because it was an exceptionally dry year and a comparison with that year is no more than a political ploy.

Work is set to begin at the end of April to reduce overflows into the Teme. The work to increase storage capacity at Temeside, pumping capacity at the pumping stations and storage and processing capacity at the sewage works will lead to Temeside being closed between Weeping Cross and Old Street for nearly three months.

The Corve and Teme are not as polluted as many of England’s rivers but the level of sewage overflows into the rivers is still unacceptable. The problem is the old system of combining sewage from homes and premises with storm water. When it rains hard, mixed sewage and storm water back up in the pipes. It is released into watercourses or coastal waters when there a danger of sewer overflow into houses and onto streets. Sometimes, sewage is discharged for other reasons such as faulty sensors.

Until 2021, we had no idea how much sewage was being discharged. Over the last three years, there have been 3,026 hours on sewage overflows in Ludlow, the equivalent of 126 days.

There is no doubt that the UK has a sewage crisis. Too much of what we flush away at home ends up in our rivers, streams and seas. This is a hot topic at the moment with publication of the sewage discharge data for 2023, along with high profile incidents such as pollution of chalk streams, our seas and boat race competitors being warned to avoid contact with water.

This is a national disgrace. Privatisation of water companies in 1989 created monopolies. Water companies have been traded for shareholder profit and most have been sold to overseas shareholders. They have failed to invest in the infrastructure needed for an expanding population and decaying sewage disposal system. They have instead prioritised shareholder profits and executive pay. The regulator Ofwat is weak and plans now going through parliament will weaken it further. Conservative MPs have been week too. The Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Philip Dunne, published a report calling for a 2030 deadline for cleaning up our rivers and seas. He then voted for a 2050 deadline (as did Stuart Anderson).

Discharges 2023

The recorded discharges in Ludlow in 2023 were:

River Corve

There were seven spills totalling 61 hours of discharges on the Linney picked up by a monitor at Linney House. The monitor was out of action for nine weeks until it was repaired in February 2023. Since the monitor was installed in 2017, it has recorded an average of seven spills a year. There were no discharges recorded at the newly installed Fishmore View monitor.

River Teme

Old Street. The monitor registered 16 spills totally 68 hours. Since the monitor was installed in 2017, it has recorded an average of 13 spills a year. Work to reduce overflows begins at the end of April.

Ludford. The monitor recorded two spills totalling 28 hours. The monitor, installed in 2019, has recorded an average of three spills a year.

Temeside. The sewage pumping station had 58 spills totalling 248 hours. The four monitors were installed in 2019 and were operational for 95% of the time in 2022. Work to reduce overflows begins at the end of April.

Ludlow Sewage Treatment Works. There were 78 spills for a total of 921 hours. This is lower than the average number of spills since the four monitors were installed in 2019. The monitors were operational 91% of the time in 2022. A planning application has been submitted to upgrade the works including removal of tertiary solids. These are the particulates (pooticulates?) which remain suspended in water.


The Environment Agency classifies a spill as a discharge or discharges within a 12 hour period. Discharges after 12 hours are classified a sperate spill.

Environment Agency map of sewage overflows.

2 thought on “Sewerage spilt into Ludlow’s rivers for 1,382 hours last year”
  1. All the new housebuilding in and around Ludlow willexacerbate any problems.

  2. So perhaps we shoudl stop passing new housing planning permissions until the problem is fixed- its about time the county council showed some leadership and got behind efforts to stop these environmental issues- if house builders could not get planning permission they would put pressure on the water companies to fix the issues

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