The Environment Agency (EA) has found that the number of pollution incidents in 2016 was 1,902, 160 more than the previous year. These incidents included sewage spills and the EA found that there was a slight increase in the most significant sewage spills, despite finding that the majority of water companies in the UK were either close to or exceeding their water quality goal.
The worst offender was South West Water, with the highest amount of sewage spills. The EA noted that because the company had “not done enough to reduce pollution incidents” and “repeatedly scored badly…compared with other companies,” they started monitoring the company with special standards to challenge their performance, a strategy that will continue until the company “better protects the environment.”
South West Water touts “cutting-edge technology" and "a fleet of fully-equipped rapid response vehicles to enable staff to undertake sewer cleansing, surveying and reporting in one visit.” But even with overall improvements from water companies, the EA wants to see more effort from them and introduced harsher standards and stricter targets last year. Toby Willison, executive director of operations for the EA stated, “while we welcome the good progress being made we will continue to address any failings and will take enforcement action in the most serious cases,” further demonstrating the EA's commitment to the environment and its well-being.
While the rise in water pollution incidents is alarming, it's important and worth noting how governing agencies are keeping tabs on companies who aren't doing enough. By highlighting a company that is performing worse than others, the negative publicity might persuade them to improve faster. The combination of many factors and groups pushing for improvement is one of the best ways for massive change to happen. If we can keep standards high and governments aware of what's going on and how to improve it, we have a much better chance of making the water quality better for everyone.
“Number of 'pollution incidents' rises for first time in five years” https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/12/number-pollution-incidents-rises-first-time-five-years