Concerns raised over whether Southern Water is being properly regulated by the Environment Agency

CONCERNS have been raised about whether the Environment Agency is effectively regulating Southern Water.

Sunday, 13th February 2022, 10:34 am

A new report from the Windrush Against Sewage Pollution – which campaigns over water quality in Gloucestershire and elsewhere – suggests that the Environment Agency could use more accurate data than it currently does.

The report's author, Professor Peter Hammond, said the Environment Agency currently measures spill start and stop times, and annual spilling hours per CSO - when they could get recorded data every 15 minutes.

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Southern Water's Budds Farm pouring out untreated sewage on October 21, 2021. Picture: Chris Pearsall Commercial Photography

He and other environmental campaigners believe this is stopping them from holding firms like Southern Water to account.

Mike Owens from Hayling Sewage Watch said: 'It's very clear from Professor Hammond’s report that the Environment Agency is not doing its job properly.

‘There are more accurate statistics available on stormwater releases and yet they choose to take averages instead.

‘If the Environment Agency used more accurate figures then it would be easier to spot discrepancies with companies like Southern Water.’

In December, Southern Water was ranked as one of the worst water companies in England and Wales, due to poor drinking water, high levels of pollution and burst pipes.

The firm has vowed to improve, and is investing £18m on upgrading its storm overflow capacity at Budds Farm, in a bid to reduce future pollution.

As for the Environment Agency, it states that it does receive specific monitoring data for the duration of a stormwater overflow.

This data is recorded at two minute or 15 minute intervals.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: ‘Where there is evidence of non-compliance we will not hesitate to pursue the water companies concerned, and take appropriate action – as is evidenced by the conclusion of seven prosecutions against water and sewerage companies in 2021.

‘Sewage pollution can be devastating to human health, local biodiversity and our environment. Water companies, regulators, farmers and others must do more to tackle this.

‘To date, 1,300 storm overflows and storm tanks at waste water treatment works have been identified as spilling frequently, and prioritised for further scrutiny following our review of data from over 12,000 sites. Our separate, major investigation into possible unauthorised spills at thousands of sewage treatment works is ongoing.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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