THE Environment Agency (EA) has said it will clarify rules on allowing rivers to have partially treated sewage - which campaigners say should help prevent it entering Worcestershire rivers.

We earlier reported that concerns had been raised that the county's rivers, the River Severn and River Avon, could see partially treated sewage enter the system due to an ongoing problem in the chemical supply chain.

Last month the agency told water firms they can temporarily reduce the amount of chemicals used for the treatment of waste water, after problems in the chemical supply chain caused by the lorry driver shortage. Similar to the fuel crisis Water UK said there was no shortage of the chemicals, just the distribution of them.

The EA issued a regulatory statement meaning water companies wouldn't be fined using the Regulatory Position Statement (RPS).

This time-limited RPS – which expires on December 31 – can only be used by water and sewerage companies unable to comply with permit conditions because they are experiencing unavoidable delays in the delivery of chemicals to treat wastewater.

Now the agency has said it is set to publish a clarification to the RPS.

A spokesman said: "The RPS is not being withdrawn or substantively changed - a clarification to wording in the RPS will however be published in due course.

"This is to ensure that the most sensitive and high-risk watercourses are protected. Primary and secondary treatment of wastewater will also not be affected.

“The RPS is active for a time-limited period only, and we will only approve applications when we are satisfied they are operationally necessary and will not pose a significant risk to the environment.

"So far no water company has been granted use of this position statement.”

Severn Trent Water (STW) has previously stressed it is currently not being affected by the national shortage and has "no plans" to apply to contaminate water.

Fish Legal, a not-for-profit organisation of dedicated lawyers, says the clarification should mean the EA is not allowing illegal discharges of sewage into county rivers, and claimed it had come after legal action was threatened.

But the campaigners said they are still concerned about the wider issues.

Justin Neal Solicitor, at Fish Legal, said: “Although we welcome the EA’s admission that the RPS needs redrafting, they still say that there are some waterbodies which are low risk for discharging in breach of permit.

"But the treatment for sewage is there for a reason and these waterbodies need protecting – not sacrificing.

"Fish Legal will consider whether to issue the case at court when it sees the redrafted RPS in the next two weeks.”