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After periods of heavy rain, water quality degradation in urban rivers and lakes can also rise significantly due to overflows from the sewage network. In many European cities, the sewer systems are designed to receive both foul sewage and surface water following rainfall. These so-called combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are there to prevent overloading of sewers and wastewater treatment plants. After heavy rain a mixture of surface water and sewage can be discharged to the water environment via the CSOs. Discharges from CSOs may impact on water quality, including hygienic elements such as pathogens and viruses that influence bathing waters and in turn affect human health. For this reason, there are frequent public warnings to avoid bathing in urban rivers, lakes and coastal waters after heavy rain. There is need to properly protect CSOs by upstream measures (e.g. nature-based retention basins) and manage them to prevent flooding and minimise adverse impacts on the environment and public health.

Across  the  EU,  a  diverse  set  of  data  is  available  on  stormwater  overflows. Although several EU Member States have an advanced understanding on stormwater overflows, a comprehensive overview of overflows at Member State (or regional) level is still not available for a large number of countries (Cools et al,. 2016).

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