Welsh Water to pay £50,000 for sewage works permit breaches in latest enforcement undertakings round

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water will contribute £50,000 to an environmental charity after offering an enforcement undertaking last year as a result of permit breaches at the company’s sewage treatment works.

The offence came as a result of its failure to comply with conditions of an environmental permit on water discharge activity under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010/2016, as noted in the Environment Agency’s latest update to its enforcement undertakings accepted in the period from the 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2022

The breach concerned incidents at the company’s Ross-on-Wye Sewage Treatment Works, Leominster Sewage Treatment Works, and Eign Sewage Treatment Works all which took place at varying times between 2017 and 2018.

The enforcement undertaking included requirements that Welsh Water reviews its operational procedures, carries out site improvement works, covers the Environment Agency’s costs, and contributes £50,000 to The Wye and Usk Foundation.

Welsh Water was downgraded by Ofwat to the ‘lagging behind’ category in its latest performance review, for 2021-2022, which is the bottom category. The year prior to this the water company was in the middle category.

It was found to be a top performer on reducing internal sewage flooding, but was found to be failing on its commitments on treatment works compliance despite having improved performance on this in the year prior

Treatment works compliance measures companies' compliance with the discharge permit conditions set by the Environment Agency for wastewater and water treatment works.

Overall, just over £300,000 worth of enforcement undertakings were accepted by the Environment Agency in its latest update. The ENDS Report keeps track of these updates on its Enforcement Undertakings Database.

A Welsh Water spokesperson said: "While we always strive to operate all of our assets in full compliance with their permits, and we regret this did not happen on the occasions in question.

"Our enforcement undertaking contribution to the Wye and Usk Foundation will help to advance their work on the Courtaulds Water Ambition Initiative.

"As well as seeking to have a direct impact to improving water quality in the catchment, the project will also seek to reduce the amount of summer agricultural river abstraction."