Water companies challenged to improve performance on environment, leakage and protecting supplies

Posted: Thursday 10th September 2020

Water company chiefs challenged at meeting with government and Ofwat on environmental performance.

The chief executives of fifteen water companies met recently with Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, who challenged them to do more to protect the environment and safeguard our water supplies. Representatives from Ofwat, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Water UK, The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) were also present. The meeting follows the joint letter sent to water companies in July, encouraging them to accelerate investment as part of the country’s green economic recovery from coronavirus. While water companies had coped well under increased pressure during lockdown, Minister Pow made clear that much stronger action was needed on environmental priorities, particularly in the following areas:

The meeting comes ahead of the Environment Agency’s annual report on water companies’ environmental performance, which will be published later this month. Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:“Water companies need to take their environmental obligations seriously and this impetus must come from the top.“Despite investment from the industry, the damage inflicted on our environment – our rivers, lakes, streams and the wildlife that rely on them – is still far too great. Today we discussed a number of issues I feel strongly about, including storm overflows, and how we can work together to see much more ambitious improvements.“This country’s green recovery from coronavirus can only happen if water companies step up and play their part.”Harvey Bradshaw, Executive Director of Environment and Business at the Environment Agency, commented:“Our water environment is precious and under huge and increasing pressure from a growing population and the climate emergency.“Our environmental targets are ambitious and we are challenging water companies to go faster and furtheron environment, leakage and protecting supplies. Water companies have a key role to safeguard our water environment and we will regulate them as a modern regulator should; rewarding excellence and sanctioning behaviour that harms the environment. In this way we will be working with them to drive up standards including through our new Taskforce on storm overflows.“Everybody shares a crucial responsibility to protect the environment for future generations, and we will continue to work with all parties to deliver much-needed improvements.John Russell, Senior Director, Strategy and Planning at Ofwat, added:“We welcome the challenge to water companies set by Minister Pow and are committed to continuing to work with government and other independent regulators on the future direction for the water industry, particularly the focus on environmental priorities. These sector wide discussions are crucial for setting targets which can drive long term resilience and broader improvements to water customers, such as the progress water companies are reporting on leakage and the industry’s pledge to achieve net zero by 2030.” The meeting also touched on changes to the £5 billion Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) – investment by water companies in the environment – to make it more outcome-focused and increase the involvement and accountability of water companies.

Read the magazine online

April 2021

About the magazine »
Magazine archive »


Information for advertisers »

Cranfield University buttonwood marketing British Water Water Aid Harvey Communications Huber Pulsar Button June 13 wateractive
Pulsar New Banner