Watch this video report by our reporter Wesley Smith
The musician and environmental campaigner, Feargal Sharkey, says the Government has lost its way on how to deal with the growing problem of raw sewage being dumped into waterways.
It comes after MPs voted against an amendment to the Environment Act for enhanced legal duties on water companies to act.
Mr Sharkey says the current laws just need to be enforced more strictly and is calling on the water companies to spend more to tackle the problem.
Feargal Sharkey has fought a long campaign to get a stretch of water in Stanstead Abbots near Harlow clean and brimming with life again.
He says the Government has missed opportunities to act.
The industry regulator, Ofwat has called on water companies to significantly reduce storm overflows and spell out how they will do it.
The group, Surfers Against Sewage cite Hunstanton Beach in Norfolk as an area of concern both for human health and for wildlife, especially after heavy rainfall.
Anglian Water has said how they are dealing with the issue.
The Government admit the amount of sewage discharged by water companies into rivers is unacceptable and say water companies face stiff penalties for failing to comply with regulations.
They say they are working towards legislation to transform how to protect and clean water.