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MPs question water company bosses over pollution incidents

The EFRA Committee plans to address the CEOs of United Utilities and South West Water over recent pollution incidents, including a cryptosporidium outbreak in Devon and untreated sewage release into Lake Windermere

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has raised serious concerns with the Chief Executive Officers of United Utilities and South West Water (SWW) regarding recent pollution incidents.

The committee will question the CEOs in an evidence session on 5th June, ahead of Ofwat’s decision on water companies’ spending plans and proposed price rises on 12 June.

Sir Robert Goodwill, Chair of the EFRA Committee, wrote to South West Water (SWW) expressing concern over a cryptosporidium outbreak in Brixham, Devon.

Following an advisory for 17,000 households to boil their drinking water, the UK Health Security Agency confirmed 57 cases of cryptosporidiosis, with more cases expected.

Sir Robert’s letter criticised SWW for failing to provide safe water and for a slow response to the outbreak.

The committee has requested a written account from the SWW CEO by 31st May.

In a separate letter, the Committee Chair addressed Louise Beardmore, Chief Executive Officer of United Utilities, regarding the release of over ten million litres of untreated sewage into Lake Windermere in February.

The letter noted that a telecommunications fault triggered the incident but stressed the need to investigate United Utilities’ response and communication with the Environment Agency.

The Committee aims to discuss measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Susan Davy, Chief Executive Officer, Pennon Group, said: “I wanted to assure you and the committee that myself and all of my colleagues at South West Water are 100% focused on returning a safe water supply to the people and businesses in and around Brixham.

“85% returned to normal supply on 18th May. We continue to work at pace, alongside the relevant authorities, to restore supply fully to every customer and business, and we won’t stop until this is done.

“I know this has caused significant disruption and distress to our customers and I am very sorry. Customers are right to be angry and will have questions for us. I am fully committed to ensuring our customers have all the answers to all these questions following the restoration of normal supply.”

Energy Live News has contacted United Utilities for comment.

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