Story idea: David Nicol
In a disturbing piece on Channel 4 News last night, we heard:
Untreated sewage is being released into rivers across England and Wales – perfectly legally – and campaigners are calling it a ‘dirty little secret’. This programme has now obtained exclusive figures showing how often and for how long it’s happening. Water companies are allowed to release a mixture of rainwater and sewage through special overflow pipes during spells of heavy rain – but we’ve discovered that during 2018 – there were 140,000 spills, lasting a total of 900,000 hours.
The disaster of water privatisation in England:
According to the Environment Agency reported on the BBC UK website last July:
[In England] there were 56 serious pollution incidents last year , rising from 52 in 2017, the agency’s annual report said. Only one of the nine major water companies in England is performing at the expected level, with most likely to miss 2020 targets, the agency added. The report follows the agency’s announcement that Southern Water is facing prosecution after it was hit with a record £126m penalty package over “shocking” failures in its sewage treatment sites.
Meanwhile in Scotland, according to SEPA:
In 2017, for the first time in a number of years, Scottish Water was not responsible for any category 1, serious pollution incidents.
A report in Open Democracy attributes the situation in England to privatisation:
The dire state of our rivers is just one of the many, many failures of water and sewerage privatisation. It is just one example of what happens when we hand over not just time-limited contracts for delivering water and sewerage services, but the actual assets themselves – the pipes, the infrastructure – to private companies to milk for profit.
The resulting customer satisfaction:
In a ComRes survey of 199 Scots, published last July, we see:
- Thinking generally about the company that provides your water and sewerage services, do you or do you not trust your water company? UK 86% Scotland 94%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Provide a reliable service? UK 90% Scotland 96%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Ensure good quality of water? UK 90% Scotland 95%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Fix water pipe leaks in public areas (e.g. in roads, not in the home)? UK 81% Scotland 93%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Take action to protect and improve the environment? UK 78% Scotland 87%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Take away wastewater and sewage and deal with it responsibly? UK 88% Scotland 93%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Provide good value for money to customers? UK 72% Scotland 88%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Pay an appropriate amount of tax? UK 78% Scotland 87%
- Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Invest sufficient money on the water network? UK 73% Scotland 86%