Ofwat launches investigation into South West Water’s environmental performance

The water regulator has opened enforcement cases against six major companies

Big Zero Report 2022

Ofwat has opened an enforcement case against South West Water as part of its investigation into how firms manage their wastewater works.

The regulator had previously opened enforcement cases into Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, Thames Water, Wessex Water and Yorkshire Water.

Ofwat said ongoing concerns and the latest performance data on South West Water’s environmental performance have prompted its decision to proceed with its investigation.

A formal notice asking for further information has already been sent to the company.

The six enforcement cases aim to answer concerns over the quality and completeness of the information companies have about how their wastewater treatment works are performing.

Ofwat also seeks more information on what companies do with that information to ensure the works are adequate, operating correctly and not causing environmental harm, such as through sewage discharges.

David Black, Ofwat Chief Executive, said: “We have now opened enforcement cases against the majority of wastewater companies in England and Wales.

“From what we have seen so far, the scale of the issue here is shocking – companies must resolve any problems at wastewater treatment works and do so quickly. Where they have breached their obligations, we will not hesitate to act.”

A South West Water spokesperson said: “South West Water notes the announcement by Ofwat today to include it in its ongoing investigation into water companies.

“We are taking Ofwat’s decision very seriously, we will provide any further information required as part of its review into South West Water. It is important that Ofwat and the public can have ongoing confidence in our commitment to the environment.

“Earlier this year we conducted a line by line review of our plans and announced our largest environmental programme in 15 years.

“This will reduce our use of storm overflows, maintain our region’s excellent bathing water quality standards all year round and reduce and then remove our impact on river water quality by 2030. We will continue to work openly and transparently with Ofwat as part of their industry-wide activity.”

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