Water companies putting profits before people?

Environmental Policies, River pollution, Water Companies

Water companies putting profits before people? We might well ask, as record sewage discharges are reported in annual data released by the Environment Agency on 27 March. The data shows a filthy picture of England’s waterways and costal seas. In total, there were 464,056 raw sewage spillages in 2023, with these lasting for over 3.5 million hours. 

The news has been greeted with outrage with the privatised water companies facing a barrage of criticism. This national data reflects a 54% increase in the number of sewage spillages compared to 2022 with Yorkshire Water being among the most prolific polluters. The Environment Agency and Ofwat, the economic regulator for the water and sewerage sectors, have also been heavily criticised for lack of effective action.

In our region, the number of total spillages was 77,761, totalling 516,386 hours, with many areas seeing hundreds of spillages by themselves.

When compared against the other water companies, Yorkshire Water was recorded as being the second worst polluter in the country.

Yorkshire Water responded to this data on 28 March by telling Yorkshire Bylines that:

“We are committed to improving our region’s rivers and were disappointed about the number of discharges in 2023. This increase is due to the wet weather experienced in the twelve-month period, which included 11 named storms. The weather experienced in the region in 2023 included a very wet summer and prolonged heavy rainfall towards the end of the year resulting in groundwater infiltration into the sewer network.” 

You can read a detailed analysis and comment by Brian McHugh in Yorkshire Bylines here