Water

Editor's picks

Six of the nine water and sewerage companies in England have seen their star rating reduced in the Environment Agency's latest annual Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) for 2021, with two companies – Southern and South West – receiving just one. However, three companies – Northumbrian, Severn Trent and United Utilities – retained their top four-star rating.
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The Environment Agency (EA) has urged courts to impose far tougher sentences on water companies that pollute, including prison sentences for chief executives and company boards for “serious and deliberate” incidents. The call came as the agency released its annual Environmental Performance Assessment for 2021, which showed the number of serious pollution incidents rising to 62 - the higher number since 2013. EA chair Emma Howard Boyd described the findings as "shocking".
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Ofwat has added a new element to its innovation competition that will allow entries from outside the sector to bid on a pot of £4 million without being sponsored by or partnered with a water company. The announcement comes as the regulator confirms the next round of the competition will begin in the autumn and that it intends to extend the series until 2030.
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Featured

Six of the nine water and sewerage companies in England have seen their star rating reduced in the Environment Agency's latest annual Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) for 2021, with two companies – Southern and South West – receiving just one. However, three companies – Northumbrian, Severn Trent and United Utilities – retained their top four-star rating.
News
United Utilities has agreed to sell its renewable energy business to SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust for approximately £100 million. The company announced its intention to sell off United Utilities Renewable Energy (UURE) in May last year, at which point it was valued at £65.5 million. UURE comprises 69 MW of renewable generation assets including solar, wind and hydro across 70 sites that UU has developed since 2014.
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CCW has reported on progress made in the 12 months since it published its affordability review and made a renewed call upon UK and Welsh governments to take necessary steps to implement a single social tariff ahead of the next price review period. It praised efforts made by the sector to make support more accessible but highlighted the pressures the cost of living crisis is putting on household finances.
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Latest in Water

Yorkshire has said a hosepipe ban will be imposed across its region as part of its drought plan during the driest period in 130 years. The restriction will come into effect from 29 August to protect reservoir supplies and ensure sufficient water is left in the environment. It is the fifth company to announce a ban in recent weeks.
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A drought has been declared across much of England with eight of its fourteen regions moved from 'prolonged dry' status to 'in drought' by the National Drought Group. The group met on Friday (12 August) for the second time in recent weeks to assess the impact of the dry, hot weather on the environment. Five water companies have so far announced temporary usage bans, commonly known as hosepipe bans, this summer to protect rivers and reservoirs in their regions.
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With drought expected to be officially declared in parts of England today, can the water sector turn this crisis into an opportunity to communicate the importance of water efficiency? Ruth Williams examines how the sector can build trust and share knowledge, as well as what progress companies themselves can make.
Analysis
Yorkshire Water has begun a pipe-lining programme to address structural and water quality issues by spray lining 14km of piping in the coming year. Programme partner Morrison Water Services said the scheme, which it claimed to be the first of its kind in the UK, will reduce costs and embedded carbon emissions by up to 60% each compared to excavating and replacing pipes.
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The National Drought Group will meet again on Friday as the country experiences another heatwave but is yet to declare any parts of the country are in drought. Four water companies have imposed hosepipe bans following the prolonged dry weather and water efficiency messaging has been ramped up by all suppliers
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As the UK heads into another heatwave, Thames Water has confirmed it expects to impose a hosepipe in the "coming weeks", becoming the fourth company to do so following Southern, South East and Welsh Water. Although it can not yet confirm the timing due to operational and legal requirements, the company said it will update customers as soon as possible and in the meantime urged them to limit their water use to essential needs.
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Thames Water has added more than 4,000 people to its priority services register (PSR) since forming a partnership with disability charity Sense in January. The PSR enables them to receive extra support if water supplies are interrupted and communications in multiple formats, including braille, audio and sign language video.
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The terms of South West Water's merger with Bristol Water following the latter's acquisition by Pennon Group last year have been laid out ahead of an Ofwat consultation. Subject to approval by the regulator, the majority of Bristol’s business will be transferred to South West’s licence.
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In Utility Week's latest roundup of the weekend news, George Eustice calls on water companies to introduce more hosepipe bans as the UK faces drought, and the cost to taxpayers and billpayers of supplier failures is explored.
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The introduction of hosepipe bans by three water companies this week has sparked a wave of negative headlines. But is the water sector missing a golden opportunity to use the current pressures on water demand to engage with consumers about the need for long-term behaviour change?
Comment
An Ofwat-commissioned survey into the public understanding of the causes of pollution to rivers and seas has highlighted that many people consider sewage discharges to be the most significant negative impact to waterways, whilst also finding that the majority want to see water companies prioritise cleaning up water bodies, even if that means increasing bills.
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South East Water has announced a hosepipe ban will come into place from 12 August to protect water sources after prolonged low rainfall and forecasts for more dry weather. The company said it has increased action on finding and repairing leaks following a 50% increase in pipe bursts due to earth movement as the ground dries out.
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