Reducing pollution

Haweswater Reservoir

We’re proud to supply clean water to over three million homes and 200,000 businesses in the North West every single day, removing wastewater for treatment before safely returning it to the environment.

The North West is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and we take very seriously our role in protecting them so they can be enjoyed by all. We’ve made significant investment to reduce the impact that we have on the natural environment and to protect public safety in the North West, and when it comes to avoiding serious pollution incidents, we’re in an industry-leading position.

But it’s our long-term ambition to eliminate pollution incidents completely.

Our regulator, the Environment Agency, tightly controls what we can discharge back to the water environment. If something goes wrong and there’s a blockage, burst or power failure, the monitoring that we have in place detects it and we’re quick to act, reporting the pollution incident to the Environment Agency and minimising the impact as soon as possible. 

In 2019, the Environment Agency reported that the only pollution incidents we had were either category 3 (minimal effect on water quality) or category 4 (no effect on water quality). We had no pollution incidents in the two more serious categories of category 1 (major effect on water quality) or category 2 (significant effect on water quality). Nevertheless, we are committed to driving down the number of minor incidents even further, from our 2019 figure.

For more information on the category definitions, see the Environment Agency’s Common Incident Classification Scheme (CICS).

  • What are we doing to tackle pollution incidents?

    When fats, oils and grease enter the sewers and combine with materials such as wet wipes, they cause a significant amount of blockages that can lead to pollution incidents. We’re working to raise awareness with food vendors, educating and influencing them to adopt practices that prevent fats, oils and grease from entering our sewer network.

    In the same way, we carry out campaigns to show household customers how they too can play their part in helping to prevent pollution incidents by thinking before they pour, and by only flushing the three p’s: pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

    If you want to find out more about what we’re doing to do to tackle pollution incidents and reduce our impact on the environment, you can read our pollution incident reduction plan.

  • How can you help us?

    As well as watching what you flush and pour, you can help when you’re out and about too: if you think you spot a pollution incident, call us on 0345 672 3723. Provide the best location details that you have and we’ll sort out the rest.