Ofwat investigation

Water companies targeted in next phase of Ofwat investigation into wastewater treatment.

As of 9th March 2022 the water regulator, Ofwat, has opened enforcement cases into five companies as part of its ongoing investigation into how water companies manage their wastewater treatment works. Among these is Anglian Water, which handles sewage for the communities in North Uttlesford and has treatment works discharging to the Cam.

Anglian Water has been served formal notice to gather further information for enforcement purposes because the information they have so far provided raises one or more of the following concerns:

  • it reported a significant number of wastewater treatment works which the company considers might not be compliant with its environmental permits, and/or
  • it raised concerns about how overall the company manages its compliance with its environmental obligations, and/or
  • it didn’t sufficiently show how the company have established whether its treatment works are meeting the requirements of its environmental permits, and so we need further information for our assessment.

In a press release issued by Ofwat, David Black, the regulator’s interim Chief Executive, said:

“The data that emerged at the end of last year suggested widespread shortcomings in how water companies were running sewage treatment works. The first phase of our investigation suggests those concerns are credible.

“We have identified shortcomings in most water and wastewater companies and are continuing to investigate. But we have already seen enough in five companies to cause serious concern and warrant us taking further action.

“We will now dig deeper into what these five companies have been doing, with the prospect of formal enforcement against them if we find they are failing on obligations Ofwat enforces.

“We will have further questions for all companies on this. In the meantime, we expect them to make quick progress in addressing any potential non-compliance they might have, whilst strengthening how they manage their environmental obligations as a whole.”

CURAT NOTE: None of this would be happening were it not for the tireless campaigning of river groups and environmental activists. The photograph at the top of this post (taken of the Cam at Horse River Green in Great Chesterford) shows the effect of sewage pollution.