sh.t in Rivers

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plodder
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Sat Nov 06, 2021 6:02 pm

A bang up to date technical report with costs and all sorts. Not read it yet but likely comprehensive.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... roject.pdf

Suggests a lot of the problem can be solved for under £4bn. Fergal Sharkey is keen to point out this represents about 2 year's profit for the industry.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by sheldrake » Sat Nov 06, 2021 6:19 pm

Somebody dedicated should go through the MPs register of interests noting water company shares.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Sat Nov 06, 2021 6:43 pm

Typically everyone with a pension has water company shares - they are the kind of low yield, low risk share that underpins a lot of "sensible" investments. Water company profits by turnover are not particularly exciting - people just get pissed off when they're told there's no money for insfrastructure improvements when hundreds of millions are taken as profits. But as I think I've mentioned already, the interest rates water cos can borrow at (typically interest only by the way) to fund their infrastructure schemes are dependent on profit. So removing the profit also removes the cheap credit - there's a bit of a balancing act to do there.

Unfortunately don't have a link to any numbers for the last bit, it was explained to me by a very cheerful engineer just prior to his retirement... but certainly water cos employ very well paid teams of finance specialists for this reason. Ultimately water cos are just a balancing act between cheap finance, maximum profit and keeping Ofwat and the EA happy.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Mon Nov 08, 2021 11:38 am

Big vote in the Commons today - choice is on the gov amendment (which legalises sh.t in rivers for the first time in ages) or the Wellington / HoL amendment (which does not).

I've written to my MP, if you want some ideas for suggested text then as always Fergal Sharkey is on the case:

https://twitter.com/Feargal_Sharkey/sta ... 9525192707


eta I am hoping that some of the new Tory intake, hung out to dry a few days ago over Patterson, have a bit of fire in their bellies.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Mon Nov 08, 2021 10:05 pm

no fire in bellies.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Nov 08, 2021 11:24 pm

The public response is heartening - and huge props to Sharkey. He was a big inspiration for a mature student on my degree back in the day, but I didn't see much of him till recently.

The pisspoor political response is predictable, if a bit sad. I suspect further environmental degradation and laissez-faireism is to come.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by tenchboy » Tue Nov 09, 2021 7:00 pm

Nothing should come out of a sewage pipe that couldn't be sprayed on the village green... or in regents park, or the south downs or any other wild-life rich open space where everyone can see it: if it's not fit to pipe on to the village green (etc), why is it ok to pipe it into rivers?

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by tenchboy » Tue Nov 09, 2021 7:08 pm

000 fs.png
000 fs.png (360.21 KiB) Viewed 986 times
It'safuckingdisgrace.
After everything that has been done to clean up the rivers; and now they become sewers again

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Fishnut » Mon Nov 22, 2021 12:02 pm

From the graniud:
A legal action group is warning there may be an information blackout on sewage discharges by water companies for years, after the Environment Agency announced an inquiry into more than 2,000 sites.

Fish Legal said that in the past, the EA has refused to disclose any information once an investigation is launched. The group said the systemic abuse of the permit conditions under which sewage treatment works have to operate had been brought to light by the public, often using environmental information requests...

[Penny Gane, head of legal practice at Fish Legal] highlighted the length of time it had taken for the EA to investigate and prosecute Southern Water over the illegal dumping of billions of litres of untreated sewage. The investigation into offences that took place between January 2010 to December 2015 only ended in July 2021 when the company was fined £90m.

“We therefore consider there to be a very real prospect that the agency will impose an information blackout relating to storm overflows for years whilst its investigation is ongoing,” said Gane.
it's okay to say "I don't know"

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Apr 29, 2022 2:51 pm

Legal action against Ofwat forthcoming:
Whilst water companies are responsible for what actually flows into our rivers, it’s not very clear who has the responsibility for monitoring and regulating planned and unplanned sewage discharges. We asked questions of three public bodies about their roles: the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) and the Environment Agency (EA).

The responses to our Environmental Information Regulations requests reveal a confused tangle of finger-pointing; each body suggesting another bears the responsibility for monitoring and dealing with this issue. We’ve had a look at what the law says and we believe Ofwat is ducking its responsibilities and we’ve written a Pre-action Protocol letter to them, to which we expect a response next week.
https://wildjustice.org.uk/sewage/rivers-and-sewage/

Section 6 of their letter is long, but explains their legal position:
6.1 In this context, Wild Justice has sought to understand what action (if any) is taken, and
by whom, to monitor (and enforce in relation to) compliance in England with the
requirements of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (‘UWWT’) as now
operating though the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations
1994.
6.2 As below, those UWWT obligations are the cornerstone of ensuring that sewage plants
are designed and operated so as to avoid sewage overflow and discharge into
watercourses. They are supplemented by, but – critically - not duplicated by,
obligations such as those which are imposed by environmental permits.
6.3 Regulation 4 of those Regulations supplement the obligations falling on sewerage
undertakers by virtue of section 94 of the Water Industry Act 1991 (so as to place on
them the UWWT obligations).
6.4 The obligations in question include an obligation to ensure treatment in accordance
with Regulation 5 and an obligation
“to ensure that—
(a) plants built in order to comply with that regulation are designed (account being
taken of seasonal variations of the load), constructed, operated and maintained to
ensure sufficient performance under all normal local climatic conditions;
(b) treated waste water and sludge arising from waste water treatment are reused
whenever appropriate; and
(c) disposal routes for treated waste water and sludge minimise the adverse effects
on the environment.”
6.5 Plants are also required to comply with schedule 2 of the Regulations which requires
that:
“The design, construction and maintenance of collecting systems shall be undertaken
in accordance with the best technical knowledge not entailing excessive costs, notably
regarding—
(a) volume and characteristics of urban waste water;
(b) prevention of leaks;
(c) limitation of pollution of receiving waters due to storm water overflows.”
6.6 Importantly, those obligations relate to the design and operation of particular (and to
each and every) sewage treatment plant operated by each sewage undertaker.
6.7 By section 94(3) of the 1991 Act those obligations on sewage undertakers are
potentially enforceable under section 18 of the Act by the Secretary of State and (with
the Secretary of State’s consent) Ofwat.
The Secretary of State’s position
6.8 The Secretary of State’s letter of 4 April 2022 provided us with a copy of the consent
given by the Secretary of State to (what is now) Ofwat for that purpose, and
confirmation that the Secretary of State considers himself to have no further role in
these matters.

Ofwat’s position
6.9 It follows that enforcement of those UWWT obligations (and the related monitoring etc.)
is a matter in England and Wales for Ofwat alone.
6.10 With that in mind, we note Ofwat’s response of 3 March 2022 (as above) to our
request for information on how Ofwat discharges its obligations in this regard.
6.11 We first note that Ofwat provided no reference to any existing documentation or
policy specifically or directly explaining its approach to the Regulations as they apply
under Section 94. You have provided no documentation referencing Ofwat’s actions or
role in relation to the UWWT obligations.
6.12 Insofar as the letter touched on the point, it noted that Ofwat has powers of
enforcement in relation to the UWWT obligations but said merely that:
“Where we obtain evidence that a company could potentially be in breach of its section
94 duty we will consider the most appropriate course of action, in line with our published
approach to enforcement.”
6.13 The document dealing with Ofwat’s “approach to enforcement” is entirely generic
and says nothing specific about the UWWT obligations, let alone about any monitoring
or other duties in relation to those obligations.
6.14 While the 3 March 2022 letter mentioned monitoring of undertakers by Ofwat, the
monitoring in question relates entirely to other things, with nothing that was identified
of any direct relevance to the compliance by particular plants with the Regulations and
thus the plant-specific UWWT requirements.
6.15 The 3 March 2022 response also explained that:
“Evidence of potential breaches of section 94 may come to light from a number of
different sources. Individual customer complaints are typically raised via our routine
complaints and casework function1. Information may also come to light from other
sources, including our regular company performance monitoring activities, which might
indicate that a company is performing poorly against agreed performance
commitments on metrics covering areas of performance related to its section 94
duties.”
6.16 The essence of the Ofwat response was therefore that Ofwat is entirely reactive in
its approach to enforcement of the UWWT obligations in relation to individual treatment
plants. If something happens to come to its attention then it will consider what if any
action to undertake; but no positive monitoring or assessment is undertaken.
6.17 Anyway, the letter continued:
“As a general duty, section 94 is concerned with a company's provision and
custodianship of its sewerage system (including cleansing of the system and the lateral
drains it owns), and whether these secure effectual drainage of its appointed area and
effectually deal with the contents of its sewerage system. In considering compliance,
we therefore focus on the adequacy of a company's overall planning, resources, and
systems for managing its sewerage system and wastewater treatment works and
whether there are factors which point to a material failure in any of these.” [underlining
added]
6.18 While Ofwat’s focus on those wider ‘planning’ matters is not unwelcome, it plainly
does not amount to, or substitute for, consideration of compliance with the plant-
specific obligations arising under the Regulations (and thus section 94) including as
set out above.
6.19 Finally, in terms of the interaction with the Environment Agency (and Ofwat’s
monitoring of environmental performance), the letter explained that:
“In relation to environmental performance, the metrics that Ofwat uses to track
company performance have evolved over the years but typically reflect the measures
used by the EA as part of its Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA). This
includes metrics such as number and type (category) of pollution incidents reported by
a company or compliance with wastewater treatment work environmental permits and
is based on the EA's data or company reporting to the EA – it is not data that Ofwat
gathers separately."
6.20 In other words, insofar as Ofwat considers environmental performance of
undertakers (which would thus potentially include their compliance with the UWWT
obligations) at all, it relies entirely on data gathered for that purpose by the Environment
Agency.
6.21 However, when we asked the Environment Agency about its role in relation to the
UWWT obligations it explained that it has no direct function in monitoring or enforcing
the obligations, enforcement of which is a matter for Ofwat. Consistent with that, as far
as we have been able to establish, the Environment Agency does not gather
information about compliance with the UWWT obligations such as those which we have
quoted from the Regulations as above.
6.22 Ofwat’s passivity in this matter is illustrated by the fact that, when we asked water
companies about which agency monitors their compliance with the UWWT obligations
none of them identified Ofwat as having that role or as taking any steps in that regard.
Southern Water (for example) said that the EA and DEFRA monitor their compliance
(but, as above, neither of them actually do); Anglian Water referred only the
Environment Agency (ditto); and likewise Southern Water (ditto). If Ofwat does
anything in regard to the UWWT obligations, the undertakers in question are not even
aware of it.
Illegality by Ofwat
6.23 Unsurprisingly, Ofwat’s section 18 enforcement powers do not exist in a vacuum.
6.24 We note, for example, section 27(2) of the 1991 Act which provides that:
“It shall also be the duty of the Authority, so far as it appears to it practicable from time
to time to do so, to collect information with respect to—
(a) the carrying out by companies appointed under Chapter I of this Part of the
functions of relevant undertakers; or
...
with a view to its becoming aware of, and ascertaining the circumstances relating to,
matters with respect to which any power or duty is conferred or imposed on it by or
under any enactment.”
6.25 That places a positive obligation on Ofwat to collect information with respect to
(among other things) compliance with the UWWT obligations arising under section 94
from the Regulations, as above.
6.26 As above, Ofwat’s approach here is entirely passive, reactive. We have seen
nothing to suggest that Ofwat collects any information in this regard. Indeed, the only
information provided suggests that it specifically does not do so.
6.27 To be clear, the only limitation on the section 27(2) obligation is provided by the
words “so far as it appears to it practicable”. In other words, information collection
which is practicable must be undertaken; and Ofwat could only excuse its inactivity if it
had specifically addressed its mind to the point and decided that collecting more was
(for some proper reason) not practicable.
6.28 We also note section 2(2A) of the 1991 Act which provides that:
“The Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Authority shall exercise and
perform the powers and duties mentioned in subsection (1) above in the manner which
he or it considers is best calculated—
...
(b) to secure that the functions of a water undertaker and of a sewerage undertaker
are properly carried out as respects every area of England and Wales;
...”
6.29 That too plainly requires positive action by Ofwat in securing compliance with the
UWWT obligations falling on the undertakes by virtue of section 94 and the
Regulations.
6.30 It thus appears to us that Ofwat is unlawfully failing to discharge the obligations
falling on it in relation to the UWWT obligations as arising under section 94 by virtue of
the Regulations including that:
(1) Ofwat is unlawfully taking an entirely passive stance in relation in enforcement
including taking no steps to obtain information relating to compliance with
undertakers with those specific obligations in relation to their treatment plants.
(2) In breach of section 27(2) of the 1991 Act, Ofwat is unlawfully failing to collect
information in relation to the performance of those specific obligations.
(3) In breach of section 2(2A) of the 1991 Act, Ofwat is unlawfully failing to discharge
its functions so as best to secure that the UWWT functions of undertakers are
properly carried out.
It's good to see this happening. The government can defund regulators as much as they like, but as long as laws exist on the books polluters are vulnerable to private action from NGOs and other interested parties. Wild Justice are tiny (3 part-time staff) but use their resources very effectively.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jun 30, 2022 1:17 pm

Witty speaks out:
No-one expects river water to be of drinking standard, but where people swim or children play they should not expect significant doses of human coliforms if they ingest water. Raw sewage from storm overflows and continuous discharge of waste containing viable organisms from sewage treatment works is an increasing problem. This is a serious public health issue for government and regulators and it is clear that the water companies are not doing enough. The public health dangers are in addition to the ecological and environmental impact which forms the basis for much regulation.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sewa ... th-problem
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Sciolus » Thu Jun 30, 2022 6:08 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Apr 29, 2022 2:51 pm
It's good to see this happening. The government can defund regulators as much as they like, but as long as laws exist on the books polluters are vulnerable to private action from NGOs and other interested parties. Wild Justice are tiny (3 part-time staff) but use their resources very effectively.
Nope. Water company dumped a load of literal sh.t in your water? Suck it up, declares court. The only option is to sue the regulator, which will do f.ck all good because regulators are underfunded and the courts are likely to say they didn't have to do their job anyway.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Jul 16, 2022 10:08 am

EA coming out swinging: Jail water firm bosses over ‘appalling’ pollution, says Environment Agency
Water company bosses must be jailed for serious pollution, the Environment Agency (EA) has said, as it revealed English water firms have overseen shocking levels of pollution in the last year.

The agency said water firms’ performance on pollution had declined to the worst seen in years. It is calling for chief executives and board members to be jailed if they oversee serious, repeated pollution because they seemed undeterred by enforcement action and court fines for breaching environmental laws.

Emma Howard Boyd, the chair of the EA, said: “Fines currently handed down by the courts often amount to less than a chief executive’s salary … Investors should no longer see England’s water monopolies as a one-way bet.”
And apparently they're going to start doing some enforcement again:
Company directors let this occur and it is simply unacceptable. Over the years the public have seen water company executives and investors rewarded handsomely while the environment pays the price. The water companies are behaving like this for a simple reason: because they can. We intend to make it too painful for them to continue as they are.
so apparently they've discovered additional reserves of funding and/or backbone. I suspect the enormous amount of public outrage and campaigning may have helped here.
The EA report on Thursday said water companies were not reporting the total number of pollution incidents. Self-reporting remained at 77%, which was below target. Thames Water performed significantly below target with only 65% of incidents self-reported.
Quelle surprise. Surely no c.nt thought they actually would?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ent-agency
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Mon Jul 18, 2022 6:40 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sat Jul 16, 2022 10:08 am
EA coming out swinging: Jail water firm bosses over ‘appalling’ pollution, says Environment Agency
Water company bosses must be jailed for serious pollution, the Environment Agency (EA) has said, as it revealed English water firms have overseen shocking levels of pollution in the last year.

The agency said water firms’ performance on pollution had declined to the worst seen in years. It is calling for chief executives and board members to be jailed if they oversee serious, repeated pollution because they seemed undeterred by enforcement action and court fines for breaching environmental laws.

Emma Howard Boyd, the chair of the EA, said: “Fines currently handed down by the courts often amount to less than a chief executive’s salary … Investors should no longer see England’s water monopolies as a one-way bet.”
And apparently they're going to start doing some enforcement again:
Company directors let this occur and it is simply unacceptable. Over the years the public have seen water company executives and investors rewarded handsomely while the environment pays the price. The water companies are behaving like this for a simple reason: because they can. We intend to make it too painful for them to continue as they are.
so apparently they've discovered additional reserves of funding and/or backbone. I suspect the enormous amount of public outrage and campaigning may have helped here.
The EA report on Thursday said water companies were not reporting the total number of pollution incidents. Self-reporting remained at 77%, which was below target. Thames Water performed significantly below target with only 65% of incidents self-reported.
Quelle surprise. Surely no c.nt thought they actually would?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ent-agency
She's leaving the EA in about a month and said f.ck all whilst she was in charge.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jul 18, 2022 7:27 pm

Ah - that explains it.

Fingers crossed the next chair can keep the pressure up.
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Tue Jul 19, 2022 4:53 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jul 18, 2022 7:27 pm
Ah - that explains it.

Fingers crossed the next chair can keep the pressure up.
Not a hope, they're going to tear up environmental law and my money is on both the EA and Natural England being broken up and re-formed into something more lightweight and nimble.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by plodder » Thu Aug 04, 2022 7:16 am

Good long read here, including an excellent “complete bollocks”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ish-rivers

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