Stark warning to several water companies as environmental performance fails to improve - defra / Environment Agency

Environmental performance report shows more action and investment is needed by several water companies that are failing to protect the environment

The Environment Agency has today (2 October) released its annual report on the environmental performance of England’s water and sewerage companies, showing that four out of nine companies are falling short of expected standards.

The annual report rates each company in England from 1 star to 4 star, based on a range of measures including serious pollution incidents, pollution per km of sewer pipes and compliance with permits.

It found that:

While the number of serious water quality pollution incidents from water company sewerage and clean water assets has plateaued – with a slight improvement to 52 compared to 56 in 2018 – the total number of pollution incidents has increased.

In light of these results, both the Environment Secretary George Eustice and the Chair of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, will be holding meetings with all underperforming companies to discuss improving their poor performance.

Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd said: "We cannot transform water quality in the way we all want if water companies’ environmental performance continues to backslide. Severn Trent and Wessex Water show high performance is possible, and United Utilities were the best performing for serious pollution incidents, but the evidence suggests that the rest of the sector isn’t listening.  I will be meeting water company chairs in the coming weeks to make it clear that we expect much more. This includes developing, publishing and implementing specific plans by the end of this year to reduce pollution incidents. We will closely follow the delivery of these plans and will apply tough regulation to ensure companies stick by them."

The full report is available on

Posted on: 02 October 2020

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