Pollution prevention

All the water we source to provide safe, clean drinking water is borrowed from nature, so we take our responsibility as an environmental custodian very seriously.

We protect our rivers and waterways by recycling used water from homes and businesses and safely returning it to the environment.

We strive to operate in a way that minimises risk to the environment and to public safety, and abide by strict Environment Agency (EA) regulations. To do this well, our process requires vast amounts of equipment and a lot of sewer pipes – enough to go around the world twice! While we work hard to make sure we operate effectively, we do appreciate that if something does go wrong and sewage escapes from the sewer system, it can impact the local water quality, wildlife and other users.

What can happen? Causes of sewer pollution

The most obvious sign of pollution in a stream or river is the presence of sewage solids in the water, but there may also be other indicators such as:


  • toilet waste – ie toilet paper, condoms and sanitary products
    soap suds or a milky-looking discharge
    a grey colour
    a noticeable sewage smell.

Pollution can be dangerous to the environment, at its worse, kill fish and other aquatic life and could cause a risk to human health. It can also affect biodiversity, and the use of water and land for agricultural purposes.


We're working hard, on a continual basis, to minimise pollution incidents from the work that we do. with your help, together, we can identify and new issues as they arise too.


What we're doing

Our Pollution Incident Reduction Plan 2020-2025 (PIRP) sets out our strategy for sustainable improvements to our pollution performance. It describes how we will deliver a significant reduction in the number of pollution incidents arising from our equipment, including those triggered at pumping stations, in sewers, through burst water mains and at treatment works.


‘No sewage pollution’ is one of our 12 ambitious business goals which guides us on our sustainability journey to Love Every Drop.


Let’s work together to prevent pollution

If you are out and about and see pollution in local rivers, streams or any watercourse from our pipes or other equipment, please report it to us immediately.

There are lots of ways you can use to get in touch with us:


  • report an issue online
  • contact us via our social media channels Facebook or Twitter
  • call us on 03457 145 145. We’re open 24 hours a day, every day of the year and calls are free from a BT landline.

It will help us act fast if you can give us as much information as possible, for example:


  • What you’ve seen – Can you describe it? What colour is it? What's it's consistency? Is there rag and debris in it? Is it flowing or static? Is there any smell? 
  • Where is it? – Is the sewer pollution near or in a watercourse? Are there any landmarks that could help us track it down?
  • When did you notice it?
  • If you can let us know about the weather conditions and send a photo of what you have seen, that would be a great help too.


We’ll investigate and take any action that’s needed. We would be happy to keep you updated if you would like us to. Just let us know when you contact us.


Involving the community

If you’re part of a local community group and would like to be involved or set up a group to help keep your local river and watercourse clean and healthy, please take a look at our River Care and Beach Care programmes page.