Water Suppliers Urged To Prioritise Pollution Reduction

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Given that serious pollution incidents rose last year, resulting in damage to both rivers and wildlife, the Environment Agency has now called on water suppliers around the UK to work towards improving the environment, instead of polluting waterways.


The organisation’s annual report shows that Northumbrian Water was the only water company achieving the highest four star rating on a range of measures including serious pollution, supply resilience, pollution per km of sewer pipes and self-reporting of pollution.


Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Wessex Water fell from four to three stars. Any supplier with three stars has to improve their performance so as to reduce the impact they have on the environment.


Yorkshire Water, South West Water and Southern Water all received two stars, described as showing an “unacceptable level of performance”.


“Companies performing well have a positive ripple effect on the natural environment and communities in their regions. We want all water companies to meet the expectation of their customers, the needs of environment and learn from the best practice that the leading company is demonstrating,” Dr Toby Willison, executive director of operations with the Environment Agency, said.


Just this month (July), Thames Water was fined over £700,000 for polluting the Maidenhead Ditch in Berkshire, a move that killed hundreds of fish and left many in distress.


The supplier caused pollution of the watercourse with raw sewage from its site at Maidenhead Sewage Treatment works. An investigation found that sewage and partially treated sewage ended up in the watercourse because of poorly performing equipment.


Monitoring for water quality and a review of water samples from numerous locations along the river found that there were very low dissolved oxygen levels, suggesting that oxygen had been stripped from the water because of the pollution.


It isn’t just water suppliers that are responsible for protecting the environment, however, and companies of all shapes and sizes need to do their bit as well.


It seems that not all businesses are environmentally aware, with one dairy farm in Hethersgill near Carlisle recently making a charitable donation of £6,500 to Eden Rivers Trust after farm slurry entered Highberries Beck, a tributary of the River Eden.


Officers found the beck was polluted with slurry, traced back to a field around 2km upstream that had been land spread by a contractor on behalf of the farm operator.


CEO of Eden Rivers Trust Elizabeth Radford said that while the group is eager to see no incidents take place, when they do it’s pleasing that compensation is demanded from polluters and improvements to the way that effluent is handled are made.


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