Environmental impact 2013-14

We use a wide variety of other information to assess risks to customers – and decide whether we need to take action on your behalf. This is part of our approach for holding water companies to account.

Below we highlight the overall performance of the monopoly water and sewerage and water only companies in England and Wales in 2013-14 – and any action we are taking to protect customers’ interests.

Environmental impact indicators

The water sector can have a significant impact on the environment. For example, poorly maintained sewers can lead to the discharge of raw sewage into a river. So the companies are required to maintain their networks and manage their operations effectively.

The company reports tell us there were slightly more serious pollution incidents caused by water company sewerage assets last year. At an industry level there were around three incidents for every 10,000km of sewer in 2013-14 compared with two incidents for every 10,000km in 2012-13. There was a slight decrease in less serious incidents with 99 for every 10,000km in 2013-14 compared with 106 for every 10,000km in 2012-13. Companies have explained where they are focusing work to reduce pollution further in future.

In other news, the companies reported that together they emitted the equivalent of about 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013-14. This is about the same as the year before. The activities the companies carry out can generate a large volume of greenhouse gases. For example, treating and pumping water and sewage uses a lot of energy. The companies are expected to reduce their emissions where it is economic to do so and in customers’ interest.

Action we are taking

Where companies have identified issues with their performance, we are following these up with them to make sure they get back on track.

If companies fail to deliver the agreed environmental performance, we and the Environment Agency will consider together what action we each need to take to protect the environment and customers’ interests.

The Environment Agency sets legal requirements that the companies must meet to protect the environment. So, it is responsible for taking action if the companies fail to deliver these requirements. You can read more about this in Environmental performance of the water and sewerage companies in 2013.

We are responsible for making sure that the companies deliver the environmental improvements that customers pay for in their water and sewerage bills. We can take action where the companies fail to deliver these improvements – for example, by making them pay back money for things they did not deliver.


We have collated below the performance data companies have published.


Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions Pollution incidents sewerage Serious pollution incidents sewerage Pollution incidents (water) [optional] Discharge permit compliance Satisfactory sludge disposal
Anglian 439 87.1 2.2 97.5% 100%
Dŵr Cymru 243 66.4 1.1 97.9% 100%
Northumbrian 200 77.6 3.1 0.0 99.4% 100%
Northumbrian (Essex and Suffolk)
Severn Trent 511 78.0 1.3 99.3% 100%
South West 153 266.8 10.8 92.5% 100%
Southern 270 145.0 4.1 95.9% 100%
Thames 739 89.6 3.2 95.7% 100%
United Utilities 449 48.0 1.1 99.0% 99.9%
Wessex 145 48.2 3.5 99.0% 100%
Yorkshire 357 78.1 3.3 98.0% 100%
Affinity Water 111
 – Central area
 – East area
 – Southeast area
Bristol 42 1.5
Dee Valley 9
Portsmouth 11 0.0 100.00%
Sembcorp Bournemouth 16
South East 75 0.7
South Staffs (Cambridge) 6
South Staffs 51 0.0
Sutton & East Surrey 27

Green means the company’s performance is in line with or better than expected
Amber means the company’s performance is not in line with expectations but performance has slipped only slightly
Red means the company’s performance is significantly below target or expectation
Blue means companies did not have to submit this data
White means companies did not report a red, amber or green status