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Water companies given green light to invest £2.7 billion on building back greener

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A photo of a river

Ofwat has today announced a final package of £2.7 billion from water companies as part of the country’s green recovery from the pandemic.

The proposals follow an invitation in July 2020 from Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, and CCW asking water companies to accelerate planned investment, bring forward future investment and implement new ideas. The draft proposals were first published for consultation by Ofwat in May.

The final funding breaks down into £793m of new investment projects, alongside £1.9 billion of future projects which will be brought forward.

Severn Trent Water will invest £169 million to make improvements to water quality in 500km of rivers – equivalent to the distance between London and Carlisle – while United Utilities, Severn Trent Water and South West Water will invest £158 million to reduce harm from storm overflows and trial the creation of two new bathing rivers.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

This package of investment will be vital in driving forward our green recovery. Water companies must step up and deliver on the most pressing issues facing our environment – including water quality.

I am particularly pleased to see the increase in funding to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows following a call to action from the Storm Overflows Taskforce.

I look forward to seeing these schemes bring about lasting improvements, alongside the measures being taken by Government through a range of vehicles including the Environment Bill, as we build back greener from the pandemic.

Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd said: 

This investment, which includes £158 million to help eliminate harm caused by storm overflows and trial the creation of two new bathing rivers, demonstrates a renewed commitment to reduce pollution incidents and improve water quality, but it is vital this translates into delivery.

If it does the water sector will help the country move closer to a net zero and nature positive future that is more resilient to climate shocks like flood and drought. I look forward to seeing the results.

Further detail on the final proposals can be found here.

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  1. Comment by John W. Baxter posted on

    Long overdue!.......It is disappointing to hear that we may only get two cleaned up water courses after this process .......but one has to start to catch up with the rest of the cleaned up world somewhere.
    The phrase “treatment capacity” did not come up in the text I read, in the context of waste water.......maybe the most important part of the consumer bill regarding cleaning up water courses for us to enjoy safely.

  2. Comment by Michael Heylin OBE posted on

    Ofwat spins and lies. It was Ofwat which prevented the Water Companies investing in their assets at every stage of every AMP and Business Plan the WaterCos drafted. The failure belongs to Ofwat not the water companies. BTW this is less than Thames Water planned to invest in its' last AMP.

  3. Comment by William Hughes-Games posted on

    All this high powered, expensive upgrading of the water system of the UK is undoubtedly a good thing but are they ignoring the simple measures that don't cost hardly anything and once established are virtually self sustaining. Get back the beavers into the headwaters of every catchment in the UK and see what a huge difference this will make.

  4. Comment by Robert Nichols posted on

    Pray tell me where are they getting the money from, higher bills I expect and a lot of these water companies are now foreign owned