WATER UK ANNOUNCEMENT MAY 2023
What is being announced?
Water UK, the trade association representing the water companies of the UK, is today announcing:
• A public apology from water companies for not acting quickly enough on sewage spills
• £10bn is “ready to be invested” as part of a plan to cut sewage overflows by up to 140,000 per year
• A new environmental hub, launching next year, with near real-time information on overflows
• Companies will support up to 100 communities to create new bathing waters
What do I need to know about this announcement?
• Water companies are now delivering the investment which the Government has required them
to make. The £10bn is the first tranche of the £56bn investment which Government has required water
companies to make over the next 25 years. This is to deliver the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction
Plan, the largest ever infrastructure investment, which we announced last summer. We welcome that
they are now taking action to deliver what we asked – but there is a great deal more to do.
• They are acting because the Environment Secretary demanded that they develop their new
plans. In February, the Environment Secretary demanded that water companies develop improvement
plans for every storm overflow. That is what they are now announcing they will publish. Again, this
is welcome, but let’s be clear that they are delivering what we told them they had to do.
• This investment is still subject to approval by regulators. The Environment Agency and Ofwat will
need to review the companies’ business plans in full to ensure that they are deliverable and will not
unduly ramp up customers’ bills. We do not want the public to face massive hikes in their bills.
• Labour forgot water policy is devolved in Wales, where under their administration sewage is
discharged almost twice as often as in England. If they had a credible plan they would be using it
there. Instead they’re playing political games that threaten to triple average water bill.
• The Liberal Democrats have no plan and would see sewage backing up into people’s homes. They
pretend you can fix storm overflows overnight, whilst touting a Sewage Tax that would take 500 years
to fund it. That is not a plan, it’s a political game.
• The SNP are entirely responsible for the failure to fix storm overflows in Scotland where water
is nationalised. They don’t even monitor them. Only 4% of storm overflows are monitored in Scotland
compared to England where it’s 91%.
How should I respond?
Commenting, Brendan Clarke-Smith MP said: "I welcome this apology from the water industry. Earlier this year this Conservative Government demanded that water companies provide action plans on every storm overflow
and all of them to be monitored by the end of the year. I am pleased that they are responding
to our calls and taking action – but there is a great deal more to do."