Reducing pollution

Haweswater Reservoir

We 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 wastewater has on the natural environment and our long-term ambition is to eliminate pollution incidents.

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 2020 we had no serious pollution incidents for the second year running and have reduced total pollution incidents by almost a third. Here, we are seeing the benefits of delivering the actions developed as part of our Pollution Incident Reduction PLan which covers a range of interventions. For the first time we had no wastewater treatment works classed by the Environment Agency as "Failing Works" which is something that has only ever been achieved across the sector once before.

We're also committed to helping our customers understand the role they can play to help reduce pollution caused by blockages through our 'Stop the Block' campaign. By reducing the amount of fats, oils and greases that get poured down the sink or wet wipes flushed down the toilet we can significantly reduce the amount of blockages. 

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

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.

Combined Sewer Overflows

We work closely with the Environment Agency when excess rainfall means we need to resort to using Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) to reduce the risk of flooding in streets, homes and businesses. More information relating to CSOs can be found on our Combined Sewer Overflows Page.