Common law judgement on foam and phosphate from sewage

The owner of fishing rights on a Devon salmon river has won a civil action against South West Water for damage caused by sewage effluent discharges. The judgement may have wider significance because the damage was caused by detergents which the company was not specifically authorised to discharge under its consents.

The case of Ian Cook v South West Water PLC was heard at Exeter County Court in April. The plaintiff argued that discharges from three of the company's sewage works had interfered with his common law rights of riparian ownership. The damage was alleged to have been caused by a combination of elevated levels of phosphate in the river, resulting in an increase in algal growth, and by foaming caused by detergents in the sewage effluent. Mr

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