Hands up who thinks Southern Water are sh*t. That’s unanimous then.
In the last ten years Southern Water have been awarded two ratings of good by the Environment Agency(EA). The latest 2021 report by the EA; which provides company specific data and information on its Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) metrics, makes for dire reading.
On the evening of Thursday 11 August 2022, Southern Water had a discharge of raw undiluted sewage off Dover. On the 12 August, they advised people not to bathe off Sunny Sands amid sewage. Another discharge further demonstrates the company’s poor performance. Untreated sewage poured into the sea anywhere along our coastline is affected by the currents within the Dover straits; which run northerly and southerly. As one can see below, the local Labour Party demanded an explanation on Sat 13 Aug. However, on the 12 Aug, Southern Water had already stated the incident had been caused by high gas levels at one of their treatment sites paused pumps, and as a result, wastewater was released.
In 2020 we ran the blog that Southern Water had discharged 2,338 hours of untreated diluted sewage discharged into sea of Folkestone & Hythe District in 2020.
Southern Water owned offshore in the tax haven of Jersey, discharged untreated diluted sewage from storm overflows into the sea, or rivers within the Folkestone & Hythe District for 1,911 hours in 2021, which is an 18% decrease on the previous year (2020 – 2,338 hrs of spills). The reduction is welcome, but this still means the equivalent of untreated sewage being poured into the sea of our coastline, or into a river, in our district, once every four and a half days (2020 every 4 days). The technology to prevent this is here, however, the short termism of pandering to shareholder needs, prevents the money from being invested to prevent the ongoing tradegy.
At the last full council, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) Cabinet Member for the Environment (pictured), lodged a motion for our Council to recognise its obligation to protect its rivers and seas, including from the cumulative impacts of pollution. She cited Southern Water in particular, as it’s they who drop untreated diluted sewage into our rivers along the Kent coastline, from Dartford to Dungeness.
Unfortunately Cllr Whybrow was not at the full council meeting on the 27 July, so the motion fell. But we hope she will put it in at the next full council.
Southern Water was fined £126m in 2019. The £126m package saw Southern Water pay a rebate of £123m to customers through their bills and pay a fine of £3m. Southern Water wastewater customers will receive a rebate on their bills of £61, with £17 in 2020/21 and £11 in each of the following four years.
In July 2021, Ian McCauley, the former Chief Exec of Southern Water received a £550,900 bonus bringing his total remuneration close to £1m. Yet days earlier Southern Water were fined £90m at Canterbury Crown Court after pleading guilty to 51 offences involving the release of between 16 and 21 billion litres of raw sewage into coastal waters between Hampshire and Kent
Our environment matters, Cllr Whybrow’s motion matters, and it is time for the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to invite Southern Water in and give them a serious talking to, just like Canterbury City Council did over the failure to upgrade the Waste Water Treatment Works near Stodmarsh, which has affected its ecological environment. Lets hope it happens.
Our environment matters, and Southern Water like all other sewage and water companies should put it ahead of dividends to its shareholders.
The Shepway Vox Team
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