The day after newspapers reported untreated sewage killing
tens of thousands of fish on the Thames, Ofwat proudly announced
it was intending to raise water prices by just 13%
The day after newspapers reported untreated sewage killing tens of thousands of fish on the Thames,
Ofwat proudly announced it was intending to raise water prices by just 13% over the next five years.
Watervoice, the Ofwat funded consumer group, called the increase “far better than we had expected… or feared.”
“These congratulatory notes show how out of touch Ofwat and Watervoice are, when the water industry is
consistently a top polluter in the country,” says Paul Knight, Executive Director of the Salmon & Trout
“Ofwat’s water and sewerage charge increases are billions less than the amount needed by water
companies to simply maintain existing services to provide safe and hygienic water delivery and sewage
disposal, and to prevent them from poisoning our aquatic ecosystems. If the water companies do not get
the capital they need granted to them by Ofwat, then they can’t undertake the necessary projects to get
the systems working properly.”
“Ofwat has unrealistically justified that much of the required work can be carried out by the companies
improving their efficiency.”
“Throughout the country small and large rivers receive sewage through combined sewage and storm water
overflows. Despite vocal opposition, nothing gets done. For example, just yesterday, an angler reported
dead trout, bullheads and eels in a tributary of the River Loughor in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire.
The Environment Agency believes the kill is due to a sewage-related pollutant.”
It could take four years for the Thames to recover from this week’s toxic spill – providing there isn’t
another extreme sewage overflow. Unless the interceptor tunnel is built, untreated sewage and urban runoff
will still enter the Thames 50-60 times a year.
“Unless there is serious commitment in this country to protect our waterways from inefficiently treated
sewage, excessive water abstraction, diffuse pollution and urban run-off, the very issues the rise in
prices was destined in part to tackle, then the aquatic environment will continue to suffer.”
“More dead fish will be the visible result of decaying sewerage systems and the supply of unrealistically
priced water services, and the blame will be put firmly at the door of those who seem to be interested only
in the price of water to consumers, but little in the state of our rivers and lakes, or the wildlife
dependent on their ecosystems, ” Paul Knight concludes.
S&TA represents fisheries interests on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Stakeholders’ Group on the current round of consultations over water price increases in the next five years.
Currently, there are 120 days in the year (33% of the time) where participating in watersports on the tidal
Thames is not advised due to risk of illness because of sewage and related debris.