Southern Water still ‘unacceptable’ despite improvement says Environment Agency

Southern Water

By Stephen Slominski/Ping News

Southern Water’s Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) rating has shown some improvement, but the company still needs to enhance its performance, according to the latest annual report released by the Environment Agency.

Specifically regarding Southern Water’s performance in 2022, the report highlights that serious pollution incidents decreased from 12 in 2021 to five in 2022. While there was a slight improvement in the total number of pollution incidents, with 358 incidents in 2022 compared to 372 in 2021, but the figures remain high. The company continued its practice of self-reporting incidents, with 90% of all pollution incidents being reported internally.

Compared to the previous year, there have been modest changes in the star ratings of all water companies under the EPA. Four companies maintained their four-star rating, three improved their rating, and two saw a decline. Southern Water received a two-star rating, indicating an improvement from its previous one-star rating.

Simon Moody, Environment Agency Area Deputy Director, said: “Although we have seen some improvement in Southern Water’s performance, including a significant reduction in the most serious pollution incidents, they remain one of the poorest performing companies in the country. That is unacceptable.

“This year we expect to see them build on the early improvements of 2022 across their entire business and will continue to hold them to account if this is not the case.

“We cannot transform water quality in the way we all want if water companies’ environmental performance does not improve. We will always work closely with water companies who want to do the right thing and take robust action against those who don’t.”

In response to the report ,Southern Water posted a statement on their website emphasising the progress the company has made in achieving a two-star rating along with a 58% reduction in serious pollutions and other signs of progress. The company aims to reach a three-star rating by 2025 and plans to invest over £3 billion by 2025, with an additional £550 million in equity funding by October 2023.

Lawrence Gosden, Southern Water’s CEO, said: “This has been a challenging year for our customers and our business. The sector is under intense scrutiny. We also face diverse and significant regional and industry-wide challenges of climate change, population growth and the need to upgrade a legacy network of pipes and pumping stations, treatment works and storm overflows to meet increasingly stringent regulatory standards and the expectations of our customers and wider.

“We understand and are responding to these challenges. Whilst we are making progress against the commitments outlined by our new majority shareholder in late 2021 and our April 2023 Turnaround Plan, we recognise the desire of all stakeholders for us to go faster. We are directing all our efforts into executing our plans, investing wisely, and employing cutting-edge technology in the right places to highlight risks and to enable us to respond more intelligently and proactively.”

The report coincides with the government’s introduction of new legislation allowing the Environment Agency to impose unlimited civil sanctions on water companies for environmental offenses. This move aims to streamline and expedite the penalty process, although severe cases will still be subject to criminal proceedings.

Over the past six years, the Environment Agency has secured fines totalling over £150 million through prosecutions against water companies. In 2022 alone, nine prosecutions resulted in fines exceeding £4 million.


  1. Our water should never have been privatised. Privatisation only means selling off to the greedy who are only interested in making money for the people at the helm and, of course, absentee shareholders sitting on their backsides and doing nothing. We ordinary folk are always the losers.

    • Sadly, nothing.
      Lord Howe (the Tory minister who steered the privatisation of the water industry) was on the media a few days ago defending privatisation.
      Meanwhile the Labour government-in-waitinh has made it clear that re-nationalisation is not on the cards.

  2. Isn’t that exactly what the people in Thanet have been saying. . .
    . . . for how long now?

    Drastic change coming in 2024 I’m sure and hopefully not blue, red, green or orange.

  3. But TDC have just approved 450 executive houses in Shottendane – was it in full knowledge that SWater had a Plan that reassured them re ‘water security’ ? My understanding (from the convenor of the local water companies) is that desalination plants (even in Pegwell and Minnis Bays) are out of the question (too much toxic waste for starters) and that the long projected Canterbury reservoir isn’t for the likes of us – and reservoirs can’t be whistled up overnight. So is TDC content with ‘save water bath with a friend’ as proposed (perhaps apocryphally) by the 1976 Minister for Drought ? Did the Planning Committee actually consult the TDC All Party Climate Emergency Group ??? When do we get to see the revised ‘locally led’ Local Plan ???

    • Climate change does not address water, bit silly eh? All the talk of fuel and just stop oil, no mention of water …
      💧 😜

    • No, and are not particularly bothered! It’s far easier for SW to restrict our water supply by way of hosepipe ban or something very similar.

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