The UK is experiencing "poonami" – a sewage crisis. The environmental group Greenpeace said water companies poured toilet waste into rivers and seas for more than 300,000 hours in 2022. Many people have complained about becoming sick after swimming in the sea. Others expressed concerns about the terrible smell on beaches, or the horrible brown colour of the water. The research company Savanta conducted a poll about people's opinions on the poor quality of water. Almost a quarter of swimmers said they might not swim in the sea this year because of the risk. Last week, at least 57 people got diarrhoea after competing in sea swimming events at a World Triathlon Championship.
England and Wales are the only countries in the world to have privatized their water and sewage services. The UK government sold its water to private companies in 1987. The companies promised to spend billions of pounds on making services better. However, many Britons have complained that things have become much worse. The privatized companies have not invested enough money in stopping leaks or in modernizing systems. Since 1991, they have paid over £2 billion a year to their shareholders. Water campaigner and ex-rock star Feargal Sharkey is angry with the water companies. He said they have failed to create a quality system. He also blamed the UK government for not acting.