According to WaterWorld, Thames Water, the largest water utility in the United Kingdom (U.K.), has been fined for the second time in a few months: in March, the utility had been fined £20.3 million by the Environment Agency for what is referred to as the “biggest freshwater pollution case”.
For not meeting water reduction targets from 2016 to 2017, the utility giant has been fined £8.55 million (US$10.9 million) by industry regulator, Ofwat, the maximum penalty, and which has to be paid by the “company alone and cannot be passed on to customers”.
Results published by the utility showed that it missed its leakage target by 47,000cbm per day, which accounts for 1.8 per cent of its average daily production.
“Recognising that additional investment is require in some critical areas we’ll spend in excess of £150 million (US$191.8 million) between now and 2020, above our original plans, to replace more ‘trunk’ mains, reduce leakage, improve some of our oldest sewers and upgrade the IT systems that underpin our customer service,” CEO of Thames Water, Steve Robertson, commented.
Additionally, Ofwat has opened an investigation, looking into the possibility of whether enforcement action is needed on top of the penalty.
According to the Guardian, Thames Water caused 315 pollution incidents in 2016. Though higher than the number in 2015, the numbers are still below its target of 340 incidents.
“We’re paying a high price both financially and reputationally for major pollution incidents between 2012 and 2014 [which led to the £150 million fine in March],” Robertson said to the Guardian in an interview. “The reasons for missing it are complex, and the evidence is being examined carefully in order to learn as much as we can, but the fact that the target was missed despite significant additional expenditure clearly points to the need to improve both our planning and delivery.”
“The failure by Thames Water to meet the leakage commitments it has made to its customers is unacceptable,” chief executive of Thames Water, Cathryn Ross, said. “Our performance commitment regime imposes significant penalties for failure to deliver the levels of performance that customers have paid for and consequently, Thames Water will now face the maximum penalty. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that every water company is delivering for its customers and where they fall short, we do not hesitate to step in to protect customers’ interests.”
Source: WaterWorld, The Guardian