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Severn Trent Water given reduced rating amid pollution concerns

Health | Published:

Severn Trent Water has been given a reduced rating by the Environment Agency amid concerns about pollution.

The company has been given a three-star rating out of four, with only one water provider in the country being rated the full amount of stars.

The Environment Agency's report revealed that Severn Trent had 287 pollution incidents in 2018, compared to 280 last year. There had been six serious pollution incidents in 2018 compared to two in 2017.

It comes after efforts by the water companies to protect the environment were labelled as "simply unacceptable" by the Environment Agency.

Serious pollution incidents in England increased to 56 last year from 52 in 2017 and overall water company performance has deteriorated.

Today Severn Trent said it was disappointed by the rating, but that it would work to reclaim the top rating in 2019.

They said: "We're obviously disappointed to be three stars this year but we're determined to reclaim the top rating next year.

"We've been consistently three stars or four stars over the past seven years, with four stars, the top mark possible, in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

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"Our figures are largely flat year-on-year but that does mask some real successes that we've had. For example, the Severn is now clean enough for a project to reintroduce large numbers of shad, a type of fish sensitive to pollution, into the river to be possible.

"In addition, we've set ourselves tougher targets than called for by the EA in certain areas, such as phosphate removal, to further improve the quality of the rivers in our region."

Severn Trent self-reported 79 per cent of pollution incidents, compared to 80 per cent last year. It looks after 12 sites failing to comply with the amount of allowed discharge.

Dave Throup, Environment Agency manager for Hereford and Worcestershire, tweeted: "Generally woeful environmental performance by English water companies during 2018 highlighted in our annual report.

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"Our local company Severn Trent's performance has deteriorated and it failed to meet targets on discharges or ceilings on pollutions."

Just one of the nine major water and sewage companies in England – Northumbrian Water – is performing at the level expected, achieving the highest four star rating.

Along with Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Wessex Water dropped from four stars to three stars, meaning they must improve their performance to reduce their impact on the environment.

Dr Toby Willison, executive director of operations, said: "Water companies need to clean up their act. People expect water companies to improve the environment, not pollute rivers and ensure secure supplies of water. With only one exception, none of the companies are performing at the level we wish to see, the country expects and the environment needs. We will continue to challenge CEOs to improve company performance and we will take strong and appropriate enforcement action.

"Companies performing well have a positive ripple effect on the natural environment and communities in their regions. We want all water companies to meet the expectation of their customers, the needs of environment and learn from the best practice that the leading company is demonstrating."

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