Combined Storm Overflows

We are committed to reducing our impact on river water quality and the use of storm overflows whilst developing further action plans which will tackle not just our impact but help understand the wider influences on water quality in our region delivering the change we all want to see.

Here's what we are doing

We are committed to reducing our impact on rivers by one third by 2025. We have installed Event Duration Monitors (EDM) on over 75% of river overflows and are on target to achieve 100% on all by the end of 2023 – ahead of the regulatory timeline. EDM data enables us to understand performance and helps us ensure that systems are compliant with relevant legislation.

Our Green Recovery initiative includes pilots on the Rivers Dart and Tavy aimed at transforming inland bathing water quality by measuring the whole river health and this will be instrumental in helping the region to understand what more we can all do.

How it works 

Combined storm overflows are designed to release excess storm water into rivers and seas when a prolonged rainfall occurs. This helps prevent the risk of sewage backing up, preventing homes and public spaces being flooded by allowing a controlled release.

A pollution incident is rarely attributed to a storm overflow that has operated correctly. This means bathing water quality is not necessarily unfit for swimming.

Here's how you can help

We can all do something to limit the impact of storm overflow including:

  1. Only flush the three Ps: poo, paper and pee. Sanitary items, such as wet wipes, do not break down properly in our sewers and cause blockages.
  2. Do not put FOGs (fats, oils and grease) down the sink. Instead, allow them to cool and scrape them into the bin so that they don’t solidify in your pipes.
  3. Install a water butt to collect rainwater. This water can be used to maintain your garden during summer and will also reduce the volume of water going down the drain.