Water firms make river pledges after Government pressure

The two companies said they will sharply reduce their use of storm overflows as part of five commitments.

14 March 2022

Water giants Severn Trent and Anglian Water have pledged to accelerate efforts to protect UK rivers after the Government and regulators called on the sector to do more.

Last month, environment minister Rebecca Pow called on water companies to significantly improve their practices in England and Wales to support the local environment.

The minister said the water sector should dramatically reduce the frequency and volume of sewage discharges from storm overflows to protect rivers.

The two water companies said they will sharply reduce their use of storm overflows as part of five commitments they claim will help prevent harm to rivers.

Liv Garfield, chief executive officer of Severn Trent, told the PA news agency the industry “hasn’t managed to keep pace with expectations” as she announced the latest plan.

“Public perception wants us to move faster,” she added.

“When you look at the evidence in the data, the situation improves year on year.”

One of the main commitments made by the firms is that they will ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers, using Environment Agency measures.

They pledged to create more opportunities for people access and enjoy rivers, and also committed to helping other sectors, such as farmers, to improve and care for rivers.

The firms also pledged to help wildlife thrive on rivers and lastly committed to being transparent about their plans and progress through work with non-Government organisation.

Ms Garfield said Severn Trent will invest roughly £100 million each year into the plans.

She added: “The only way to make a real difference is to identify clear and actionable commitments and provide real transparency on our progress.

“We cannot do this alone, we need everyone to understand their role in river health.

“That is why we are committed to redoubling our own efforts and investment to help others reduce their impact as well as our own.”

Peter Simpson, chief executive officer of Anglian Water, said: “As the Environment Bill became the Environment Act, we made it clear we felt even more action was needed to ensure the future health of our rivers – by coming together as an industry, securing the right investment as part of the regulatory process, and working collaboratively with other sectors.

“We firmly believe in the power of collaboration to solve big challenges, which is why it’s vital we bring the right people together.

“Get River Positive is the start of a movement, of tangible action that will deliver the changes we all want to see.”

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