A new National Overflows Plan with triple the previous investment at £10bn has been announced by English water companies along with a public apology for past performance through their membership body Water UK. “The message from the water and sewage industry today is clear: we are sorry,” said Water UK chair Ruth Kelly. “More should have been done to address the issue of spillages sooner and the public is right to be upset about the current quality of our rivers and beaches. We have listened and have an unprecedented plan to start to put it right. This problem cannot be fixed overnight, but we are determined to do everything we can to transform our rivers and seas in the way we all want to see.” Water UK described the £10bn investment plan, which will be delivered between now and 2030, as enabling “the biggest modernization of sewers since the Victorian era” and “the most ambitious programmed on sewage spills in the world”. Currently water firms had committed to spending £3.1bn between 2020 and 2025. It is expected that the investment will cut sewage overflows by up to 140,000 each year compared to the level in 2020. A more details National Overflows Plan is promised this summer, which will set out when and where the improvements will be delivered. In addition to the investment plans, Water UK unveiled the launch of a new environmental hub from next year that will give real time information on 15,000 overflows, as well as the condition of rivers and coastal waters. Water UK said that the hub will increase transparency and help the public hold water companies to account. New bathing water promises were also made with news that Water UK’s members will support 100 communities to create new protected waters for swimming and recreation. The apology was welcomed by water minister Rebecca Pow: “This apology by the water industry is not before time and I welcome it.
“The Government Has Put The Strictest Targets Ever On Water.
companies to reduce sewage pollution and demanded that water companies deliver their largest ever infrastructure investment – £56 billion. I am pleased that they are now taking action to deliver on this – but there is still a great deal more to do. “We have asked companies for action plans on every storm overflow to ensure deliverability and expect all overflows to be monitored by the end of this year.” Environment Agency chair Alan Lovell commended the transparency the changes will deliver. He said: “I welcome the commitments today by Water UK and the wider industry as they work to rebuild public trust, particularly on sewage discharges. “It is right that the industry is honest, accountable and shows the tangible steps it is taking to drive the improvements that we all want to see. “Now we want to see action and a clear plan for delivery. The Environment Agency will be working closely with them to ensure this happens.”