New report The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said they were “in disarray” with no one receiving a clean health certificate due to chemical contamination.
He also touched on how the climate crisis could make matters worse.
This was associated with untreated and partially treated sewage, which could get into waterways more often due to heavier rains.
This form of pollution can harm both wild swimmers and animals, with environmental activists warning that raw sewage can kill fish and make people sick by spreading hepatitis, E.coli and gastroenteritis.
So how does it end up in English rivers?
This is a common part of the overflow system in a country sewer network, designed for use in rainy weather and when the system is under pressure.
Although this is an important way to prevent flooding in pipes and homes, sewage is discharged into rivers and lakes before it has been properly treated.
As a result, overflow systems should be used infrequently and in exceptional circumstances. However, there have been suggestions that they are being used more and more.
The EAC report says their use seems to be “increasingly routine as pressure on the sewer network grows”.
Last year, it was found that in 2019, water companies legally discharged untreated sewage into rivers and coastal waters across England more than 400,000 times. Although this was much higher than the year before, the Environment Agency attributed this to better monitoring.
But officials acknowledge that they are being used more often than they should.
A recent report by a working group comprising the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs said a number of storm surges were operating “more often than is acceptable to the public”.
It said “sewage capacity was becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of” a number of factors, including changes in rainfall patterns.
The climate crisis is known to cause heavier rainfall. This was pointed out by the Environment Agency last year has exacerbated the risk of flooding in the UK.
This happens because higher temperatures mean that the air can retain more moisture. So when it rains, it pours.
Professor Nigel Watson of the Lancaster Center for the Environment said the climate crisis is increasing risks to public health and wildlife due to poor water quality due to the impact on spillway systems.
“Discharges of untreated sewage have become increasingly common due to more frequent intense rainfall and storms, although these discharges are only allowed by law in exceptional circumstances,” he said.
However, this is not the only factor that has been associated with overflowing reliance, as a growing population and more urban development are also putting pressure on the sewerage network.
Nevertheless, heavy rainfall – which is why the spills were prepared – also plays a role.