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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/water-and-sewerage-companies-in-england-environmental-performance-report/summary-environmental-performance-of-the-water-and-sewerage-companies-in-2018
The Environment Agency is the environmental regulator for the water industry in England. We regulate and work in partnership with the 9 water and sewerage companies (called water companies in this report) that operate in England.
This page summarises the main messages and conclusions from our report on the environmental performance of the water companies in 2018.
1. Main performance messages
We are disappointed by the performance of several water companies in 2018 compared to 2017. We are concerned that the number of 2 star companies (requiring improvement) has increased. South West Water, Yorkshire Water and Southern Water all demonstrated this unacceptable level of performance. Only Northumbrian Water achieved the highest level of performance (industry leading) which we expect from all companies.
- there was a drop in performance with 3 companies rated as 2 star (requiring improvement) and only one company achieving the highest 4 star rating (industry leading company) under the Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA)
- there was no improvement in the total number of pollution incidents, although there was a small drop in sewerage incidents
- self-reporting of pollution incidents remained at 76%, however 5 companies were worse in 2018 than 2017 and the variation between companies increased
- our assessment of company sludge performance data identified the need to review practices and regulations to ensure the right environmental outcomes
- two companies had significant issues with delivery of their Water Resources Management Plans (WRMP) and failed to achieve a score of 100 for the Security of Supply Index (SoSI) for water availability
- compliance with numeric permit conditions at Sewage Treatment Works (STW) and Water Treatment Works (WTW) remained good with 98.6% of permits compliant – further improvement is needed to meet the expectation to plan for 100% compliance, particularly from WTW
- 99.8% of planned environmental improvement schemes had been delivered against Asset Management Plans (AMP) targets
2. Conclusions and forward look
To help water companies drive the necessary improvements we:
- are setting up the ‘Improving Water Company Performance’ programme
- will discuss with Ofwat how we can work closely to use financial penalties and incentives associated with environmental performance
- will seek to recognise and promote good performance, but there will be consequences where poor performing companies do not achieve expectations
We will continue to use the EPA metrics to highlight where improvement is needed. We want companies to focus on the targets we have set, not only where performance has deteriorated but where it has begun to plateau.
We expect companies to respond positively and increase their ambition to meet these expectations. This will ensure that all companies comply with the law and deliver the right environmental outcomes.