Bath-based Wessex Water is leading the way when it comes to environmental performance in England, according to a new Environment Agency report.
The report assesses the performance of nine water and sewerage companies in terms of pollution incidents, compliance with permits and managing sewage.
Just two companies, Wessex Water and United Utilities, achieved four-star leading company status in a year which saw overall improvement across the board.
All nine companies managed 100% delivery of their environmental improvement schemes, while the Environment Agency has reported widespread improvement to asset management.
Andy Pymer, managing director of Wessex Water Services, said: “We’re extremely pleased and proud to be named as a top performing company in a year when the Environment Agency introduced tougher standards.
“We work in partnership with farmers and our customers to ensure industry-leading performance, and we will continue to invest and innovate to protect our water supply.”
While water companies have made good progress in meeting new targets, the total number of pollution incidents increased by 160 in 2016 – the first increase since 2012.
And 2016 was also the first year to see several million pound fines handed out by the courts to companies for pollution incidents.
Dr Toby Willison, executive director of operations for the Environment Agency, said: “Water companies work hard to protect the environment. We have set more stringent targets and we are glad to see overall improvements but want to see more effort to avoid pollution incidents.
“As a fair and effective regulator we are committed to publishing results, highlighting best practice but also taking action to address any poor practice.
“While we welcome the good progress being made, we will continue to address any failings and will take enforcement action in the most serious cases.”
All water companies provide an essential public service and affect the health of rivers and how water can be used downstream by others. High environmental performance from water companies protects rivers and seas, supports wildlife and ensures people can enjoy the environment.
Water companies also contributed £127 million last year to reduce risk of sewers flooding homes and protect local communities.
For more information visit: www.wessexwater.co.uk/environment.