Boat Toilets on Environment Agency Controlled Waters

I’m working on a piece for Waterways World about the use of sea toilets on inland waterways.I’ve tried to contact the EA via email without success. I have texted my questions to one of their press officers, and dictated them on the phone. Today I got a banal statement from the EA that answers precisely none of them, so what follows is an edited version of my original email. I will text the agency a link, perhaps we can start again?

My interest in this arose because I’ve recently moved back to the Gt Ouse area after being away for 20 years and when I went looking for a boat to buy I saw several on the Ouse with sea toilets. I know they were common when I had a boat here in the 1980s but I assumed they would be banned by now. The people selling the boats assured me they were not, though they could be mistaken. As a freelance writer I sensed a story here and convinced Waterways World to commission it.

So, here are the questions (updated in the light of your previous asnwers):

1. What does the current bylaw covering discharges from boat toilets into the Gt Ouse say? I’ve looked for bylaws online without success. Your previous answer, ‘UK waterways may have their own bylaws…’ Isn’t very helpful. I believe the EA is the river authority for the Gt Ouse, so I presume you publish the bylaws. If so, could you find out what they actually say on the matter?

2. Are the navigable tributaries and drains subject to the same rules, or different? If different then I’d like all those too.

3. And other rivers/drains in the Anglian group (Nene, Middle Level etc).

4. I’d like to know the situation on other rivers under your control too, I’ve tried searching online and found reports of prosecutions on the Thames for example, but what about the rest?

5. Assuming the people who tried to sell me boats with sea toilets were correct, and they are allowed on the Gt Ouse, does the EA have plans to change the bylaw? When?

6. I have heard it said (by a cynical old boat owner) that you won’t/can’t because there aren’t enough pumpouts and sanitary points, and EA hasn’t the will/budget to build some. Comment?

7. If there is a grain of truth in the above I suspect one reason may be that unlike the canal system most riverbanks are in private ownership so building sanitary stations with road access and sewer access is difficult. Is that fair comment?

8. There are a lot of marinas/boatyards on the system, surely they could cope if the remaining boats were compelled to fit cassette toilets or pump outs?

9. Do you have any idea how many sea toilet equipped boats are currently licenced for the Gt Ouse? (and other Anglian waterways).

10. Some photos would be useful if you have some in your archive. For example:
A sanitary station
Any recently built EA facilities?
Any particularly disgusting examples of river pollution to illustrate the issue?

Since writing Q10 I have received 2 photos from you, one of them twice, showing the Pump Out at Denver Sluice. Thanks. Do you have any more, perhaps of pollution incidents? I assume your staff record pollution incidents?

Your previous reply refers to the Boat Safety Scheme, but that doesn’t require sea toilets to be sealed when entering inland waters. Most of your other points are ‘recommendations’. I really want to know what is legal.