Preventing pollution

Act to prevent pollution from our operations and inform our customers on the responsible disposal of waste to our sewers.

We strive to operate in a way that minimises risk to the environment and to public safety, and abide by strict Environment Agency (EA) regulations.

The EA scores water and wastewater companies’ performance, against measures such as regulatory compliance, pollution incidents and improvement plans.

Performance highlights and issues in 2015/16 included:

We have been recognized by the EA as a 4 star company for our environmental performance, which is an improvement on our 3 star status last year. 4 stars is the highest rating the EA gives and means that our performance is considered to be industry leading.

Sewer standards: our sewage treatment works must meet strict EA discharge permit conditions which govern the treatment and disposal of wastewater. In 2015, over 97% our works met these standards, and we have plans in place to improve this further. 

As part of this improvement, we delivered a £200 million pound project at Liverpool Wastewater Treatment Works to extend the process here. This project has been hailed as a significant milestone in the clean-up of the River Mersey. We were really pleased to receive a Royal Visit when Princess Ann formally opened the new Plant in April 2016.

Pollution incidents: in 2015 we again reduced the number of pollution incidents we had compared to previous years, and had no category 1 incidents (which are the most serious) for the second year running.

When these are normalized by the length of our wastewater network we are well below than the sector average for both serious pollution incidents – 1.2 per 10,000km of sewer pipe – and pollution incidents – 40 per 10,000km of sewer pipe which our best ever performance and a reduction in incidents for 4 years in a row.  Whenever pollution incidents occur we work closely with the EA and other partners to minimise the environmental impacts.

December floods: the winter storms in December 2015 caused wide spread damage and affected a wide range of our assets including 36 Wastewater Treatment Works and 32 pumping stations. We worked quickly to allocate significant resources to the recovery and worked with other organisations to support communities affected. Following the lessons learnt from this experience we are now looking at asset resilience to ensure we can respond well to future challenges.

Beyond our own assets: we realise that we can't deliver the improvements on our own. That’s why we have set up our Catchment Wise approach to address the wider impacts on water quality in the North West’s rivers and bathing waters.

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