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Environment Agency says SWW "unacceptable" on pollution

It's been given 2 stars.

The Environment Agency says South West Water is poor performing and has "consistently demonstrated unacceptable performance and a red rating for pollution incidents."


In a report published today, the EA said overall water company performance has deteriorated which reverses the trend of gradual improvement in the sector since the rating system began in 2011. Serious pollution incidents increased in 2018 causing damage to the rivers and wildlife. 


The annual report rates each of the 9 water and sewerage companies in England as either green, amber or red on a range of measures including serious pollution, pollution per km of sewer pipes, supply resilience, self-reporting of pollution and complying with permits – and also compares individual company performance to highlight the best and worst.


 South West Water has been given 2 stars, out of a possible 4. 


A spokesperson for South West Water said: “We achieved our best ever wastewater performance in 2018, demonstrating improvement across all key areas – in contrast to a deteriorating overall industry performance, as highlighted by the Environment Agency. 


“We recognise there is still more to do and we have an action plan in place to continue to drive improvement, focusing in particular on further reducing the number of Category 3 incidents, those that have a minor or minimal impact on the environment – the only area where the EA assess that we are below the industry average. 


“This includes continued investment in our monitoring capabilities, equipment, site upgrades and staff training. We are also working closely with our regional suppliers and universities to develop enhanced ‘network intelligence’ techniques. We have already demonstrated further progress in 2019.  

“We remain on track to deliver our 2020 targets where we are aiming for zero serious and significant pollution incidents, a further reduction in other incidents and 100% compliance with wastewater permits. We will continue to work alongside the Environment Agency to achieve this.”


Executive Director of Operations at the Environment Agency Dr Toby Willison said: “Water companies need to clean up their act. People expect water companies to improve the environment, not pollute rivers and ensure secure supplies of water.


“With only one exception, none of the companies are performing at the level we wish to see, the country expects and the environment needs. We will continue to challenge CEOs to improve company performance and we will take strong and appropriate enforcement action.


“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.”

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