Countryfile fans up in arms over sewage flooding into rivers

Countryfile presenter Joe Crowley. (BBC screenshot)
Countryfile presenter Joe Crowley. (BBC screenshot)

The latest Countryfile put the microscope on a pretty harrowing environmental issue across England on Sunday, 19 May.

In a segment of the BBC show, presented by Joe Crowley, viewers learned how wet winters can often overwhelm our sewage infrastructure for months on end, leading to pollution in rivers that affects not just eco-systems and wildlife, but also humans.

Understandably, this insight kicked up quite the response on social media, with people calling out the Environment Agency.

Sewage fungus is visible under the surface of this river. (BBC screenshot)
Sewage fungus is visible under the surface of this river. (BBC screenshot)

Crowley, who works at The One Show and BBC Panorama too, began by revealing that in 2023 our rivers and seas were subjected to 3.5 million hours of untreated sewage contact.

He went on to explain: "What you might not realise is that untreated sewage is also discharged in dry weather due to something called ground water infiltration. When we have a wet winter, the water level in the ground rises up and that means that in some places the sewer pipes underneath our feet are actually sitting in ground water.

"So when those pipes are cracked and broken, the ground water gets in and it increases the volume of the sewage - such that the sewage treatment works just can't cope and some of it ends up getting dumped into our rivers."

The Environment Agency was under the cosh. (BBC screenshot)
The Environment Agency was under the cosh. (BBC screenshot)

The Countryfile star then paid a visit to the River Chess Association chairman Paul Jennings, who'd been closely watching a local chalk stream that was now 11 weeks into its horrific sewage flow. This type of discharge is illegal in some places, but the Environment Agency was yet to tackle the problem.

Later in the episode, Crowley spoke to another member of the public responsible for reporting examples of this ecological disaster to the aforementioned government department. Upon Countryfile's own investigation, though, the researchers discovered that his complaints were documented as one single event despite gathering countless bits of evidence.

Disgusted by the reality of this bacteria reaching our water, many Countryfile viewers were up in arms while posting on social media.

One viewer simply posted that the show was "pretty hard-hitting about sewage", while another said "this is horrendous," adding that the "Environment Agency need to get their act together".

"We need a new government, who will make the Environment Agency do their job properly," shared one of them. "I hope #anglianwater are watching #BBC1 #Countryfile right now," said another.

Countryfile airs Sundays on BBC One.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo TV UK at