The Water Industry ‘Must Do More’ To Protect The Environment
The government has called on industry regulator Ofwat to ensure that the sector does more to protect the environment, with a new strategic policy statement stressing just how important this is.
The list of priorities for the next five years includes focusing on action to both protect and enhance the environment, while delivering a resilient and sustainable water supply. It also confirms government expectations for water companies to significantly reduce the volume and frequency of sewage discharges from storm overflows.
Greater priority is also being given to addressing unsustainable abstraction, ensuring better flood resilience and protecting important sites such as chalk streams.
This ambitious agenda follows a consultation on draft proposals put forward by the government in July 2021, set to influence the next five-year running cycle from 2025 to 2030. The current spending cycle has already seen £7.1 billion being invested in the environment, which includes £3.1 billion on storm overflows specifically.
Direct action that has already been taken includes additional duties on the government and water firms to publish near real-time information on the operation of these storm overflows, with a statutory plan from the government on tackling the issue expected by September 2022.
Tough enforcement action has also been taken, with the Environment Agency concluding seven prosecutions against companies last year, with fines of over £100 million.
And there has been increased monitoring and transparency delivered by the Storm Overflows Taskforce, with network monitoring up 14-fold in the last five years. The Environment Agency is also now monitoring 80 per cent of storm overflows, which will rise to 100 per cent by 2023.
Rebecca Pow, environment minister, said: “The priorities that we are setting out today build on the work that we have already undertaken to reduce harm from storm overflows, improve monitoring and reporting of pollution incidents making this more transparent, to tackle run-off from agriculture, and protect the health of our rivers and seas.”
Businesses also have a part to play in helping to protect the environment and ensure that water resources are safeguarded for future generations – and the good news is that there’s a lot that can be done in this regard.
For example, you could consider having a water audit of your site carried out so that you can see how and where resources are being consumed and used. Once armed with this knowledge, you can consider which water-saving solutions might be best suited to you and your business operations.
An audit will also reveal any weak or vulnerable areas you may have onsite, allowing you to focus on water leak detection and repair as and when required. If you’d like to find out more about devising a new water strategy for your company, get in touch with the team here at H2o Building Services today.