Southern Water awaits sentencing after admitting 51 violations for dumping raw sewage into sea for years
Southern Water discharged enormous volumes of raw sewage into protected coastal waters for nearly six years causing ‘very considerable environmental damage’ because it was cheaper than treating it, a court has heard.
The Environment Agency’s biggest ever investigation uncovered how the privately owned company dumped untreated sewage into seas that were home to shellfish beds and were supposed to be some of the most protected marine environments in the country, willfully causing harm to a vital ecosystem, public health, the food we eat, and the livelihoods of fishing and seafood communities, all in search of greater profits. Failing to deliver critical and statutory services that were paid for by citizens and businesses.
In one wastewater treatment plant, Millbrook, outside Southampton, the equivalent of 371 Olympic-sized swimming pools of sewage or 746m litres, were released into Southampton water in four years and eight months.
The company charges its customers for treating wastewater and they are required by legislation to properly treat that wastewater but at 17 wastewater treatment plants the company chose to discharge raw sewage to the environment, mainly coastal waters, and it was doing that because it was a far cheaper alternative than to properly treat it. The company’s illegal dumping of raw sewage into waters that were home to shellfish beds was discovered after the quality of shellfish on the North Kent and South Coast plummeted because of high levels of faecal contamination and failed to meet quality standards.
What was happening took place between 2010 and 2015, it was deliberate and was known about at corporate level.
Many are asking what does it take for a company to lose its licence to operate? Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs