Water regulator Ofwat has announced plans to accelerate the delivery of 31 investment schemes worth around £1.6 billion to improve customer service and benefit the environment.
The announcement follows the release of shocking data by the Environment Agency, revealing that water companies discharged untreated sewage into English rivers and seas for over 1.75 million hours last year.
The water regulator said the investment will be used for over 250 storm overflows to reduce spills by 10,000, water resilience schemes and projects to reduce nutrient pollution and support nutrient neutrality.
Ofwat has identified a further 37 schemes worth £376 million that can be accelerated if they address concerns the regulator has raised.
All projects must be started by April 2025 and completed by 2030.
According to David Black, Ofwat’s Chief Executive, substantial investment is required to address the challenges in the water system and they are pleased to have identified significant investments that can be started by companies before the next price control period, bringing benefits faster for customers and the environment.
Water Minister Rebecca Pow praised the investment as important for regional jobs, businesses and local communities.
Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “The sector faces huge challenges and needs sustained investment to improve its performance. We saw during last year’s drought that many people struggled to understand their water use and that’s where the rollout of smart meters can provide households with the information they need.
“Pollution from storm overflows has already seriously damaged the way people view the sector but we need more than just immediate investment. There needs to be sustained action to put people and the environment first, including providing fairer and more consistent support for customers struggling to afford their water bill.”