22 April 2024

Wessex Water ‘Requires Improvement’ according to assessment

Wessex Water continues to be rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ after the Environment Agency’s release of the Environmental Performance Assessment report.

The Environment Agency has released its annual report on the environmental performance of England’s nine water and sewerage companies, including Wessex Water.

Since 2011, the Environment Agency has used the Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) to rate each company in England from 1 to 4 stars.

The rating considers performance on environmental commitments such as pollution incidents and treatment work compliance.

Last year an updated reporting approach was introduced, with revised metrics and tightened performance thresholds. 

According to the report, Wessex Water has been described as a company that ‘requires improvement’ for the second year running. 

Due to five serious pollution incidents, the company’s performance has failed to improve its two-star rating in the tables (out of a possible four stars).  Overall, there were 110 pollution incidents in 2022, up from 72 incidents the previous year, partly due to spills proactively reported by the company.

Despite the rating, the Environment Agency recognises there are positive aspects of the Wessex Water report, including the leading company for self-reporting of incidents, a high level of permit compliance and maintaining resilient water supplies against increased demand last year. 

Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency, Ian Withers, said: “Wessex Water’s two-star rating is a consequence of five serious pollution incidents the company was responsible for last year.  The company accepts that it has more to do to reduce the frequency of pollution events, and our regulation of their operations tells us that Wessex Water is working hard to achieve this. 

“We will continue to demand that the company focuses on this priority, and our officers will be undertaking a rigorous programme of inspections that we hope will encourage Wessex Water to deliver improvements to its sewerage networks, treatment processes and overall environmental performance.”

Wessex Water has previously been a four-star and says that they are striving to regain that status, “We have undertaken a root-cause review out of which a pollution reduction plan has been developed to enable us to regain our industry-leading position.”

The report comes as the government published a new law to allow the Environment Agency to impose unlimited civil sanctions on water companies for environmental offences.

It means it will be quicker and easier for penalties to be imposed, although the most serious cases will still be taken through criminal proceedings. 

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns