Water Companies Make Environmental Strides, But EA Wants More

The majority of the UK’s water companies achieved close to or exceeded targets set to improve water quality, according to a new report published by the Environment Agency today, with the safe recovery or disposal of sewage sludge taking place in 99.9% of cases, it found.

In a year when the Environment Agency introduced tougher standards, water companies made good progress in meeting the new targets. However, the total number of pollution incidents increased by 160 in 2016, the first increase since 2012.

While water companies continue to improve their reporting of pollution to ensure impact can be minimised and wildlife protected downstream, the Environment Agency has urged some water companies to make significant improvements to bring down pollution levels.

The report which ranks the nine big water and sewage companies in England on a range of measures needed to protect the environment also showed:

  • All companies achieved the target to complete work to build and upgrade infrastructure which will improve water quality, water resources and river biodiversity.
  • Eight out of nine water companies gained full marks for protecting water supply security. This is crucial following the dry winter as some rivers, reservoirs and groundwaters are lower than normal for the time of year but there are no water supply issues.
  • Safe recovery or disposal of sewage sludge took place 99.9% of the time and was mostly used to improve agricultural land, generate heat or power. And compliance with permits at sewage treatment and water treatment works is at 98.6% on average, while good is still short of the 100% target.
  • The number of serious pollution incidents has continued to decline. However there was an increase in total numbers of incidents and of the most damaging pollution incidents, nine up from four in the previous year.

Dr Toby Willison, Executive Director of Operations for the Environment Agency, said: “Water companies work hard to protect the environment. We have set more stringent targets and we are glad to see overall improvements but want to see more effort to avoid pollution incidents.

“As a fair and effective regulator we are committed to publishing results, highlighting best practice but also taking action to address any poor practice. While we welcome the good progress being made we will continue to address any failings and will take enforcement action in the most serious cases.”


Wessex Water and United Utilities were the top performing water companies, repeating last year’s success.


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  1. How can something so contaminated with industrial chemicals improve land? I would call it more like haziordous chemical applications. By the way, the sewage process that creates biosolids has NO effect on these chemicals.Here is proof they are there. This and ask those darn sewage con artists about these chemicals and they might say they are only part per billion or million but how do they know since they have never tested for the nearly 80,000 chemicals found in sewage. duh!

    1. EPA’s 40 CFR 261.30(d) and 261.33 (4), every
    US industry connected to a sewer can discharge any amount of hazardous and
    acute hazardous waste into sewage treatment plants. There are over 80,000
    chemicals in commerce and growing even today

    2. EPA’s Office of Inspector General’s Report
    (OIG) No. 14-P-0363 is the final RED flag on the ill-conceived practice of land
    application of industrial, medical, storm and household waste. Just Google this
    EPA OIG number to see that industrial pre-treatment has not worked and is not

    3. Sewage sludge and biosolids are over burdened with phosphate which is the cause of algae blooms

    Good luck buying into the EPA, State Environmental agencies and anyone who stand to lose money in the sewage industry. That would be the multi billion dollar sewage industry.

    Chemical exposure causes cancer. I will let you guess which of the 80,000 chemicals cause cancer.


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