THE day after newspapers reported untreated sewage killing tens of thousands of fish on the Thames, Ofwat proudly announced it was intending to raise water prices by just 13% over the next five years.  
Watervoice, the Ofwat funded consumer group, called the increase “far better than we had expected… or feared.”

“These congratulatory notes show how out of touch Ofwat and Watervoice are, when the water industry is consistently a top polluter in the country,” says Paul Knight, Executive Director of the Salmon & Trout Association.

“Ofwat’s water and sewerage charge increases are billions less than the amount needed by water companies to simply maintain existing services to provide safe and hygienic water delivery and sewage disposal, and to prevent them from poisoning our aquatic ecosystems. If the water companies do not get the capital they need granted to them by Ofwat, then they can’t undertake the necessary projects to get the systems working properly.
“Ofwat has unrealistically justified that much of the required work can be carried out by the companies improving their efficiency.

“Throughout the country small and large rivers receive sewage through combined sewage and storm water overflows. Despite vocal opposition, nothing gets done. For example, just yesterday, the Environment Agency reported trout, bullheads and eels were among the fish killed due to a sewage-related pollutant in a tributary of the River Loughor in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire.”

It could take four years for the Thames to recover from this week’s toxic spill  – providing there isn’t another extreme sewage overflow.  Unless the interceptor tunnel is built, untreated sewage and urban runoff will still enter the Thames 50-60 times a year.   

“Unless there is serious commitment in this country to protect our waterways from inefficiently treated sewage, excessive water abstraction, diffuse pollution and urban run-off, the very issues the rise in prices was destined in part to tackle, then the aquatic environment will continue to suffer.” 

“More dead fish will be the visible result of decaying sewerage systems and the supply of unrealistically priced water services, and the blame will be put firmly at the door of those who seem to be interested only in the price of water to consumers, but little in the state of our rivers and lakes, or the wildlife dependent on their ecosystems,” Paul Knight concludes.