Pollution prevention

All water we source 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.

This requires vast amounts of equipment and enough sewer pipes to go around the world twice, and while we work hard to ensure our assets operate effectively, we’re acutely aware that if something does go wrong and sewage escapes from the system, it can impact the local water quality, wildlife and other users. 

Our Pollution Incident Reduction Plan

Our Pollution Incident Reduction Plan for 2020–2025 (PIRP) sets out our strategy for sustainable improvements to our pollution performance and 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.


We're working hard to minimise pollution incidents from our assets and would like you to help us identify issues as they arise too.


How you can help

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


Reporting sewage pollution

If you see sewage pollution, call our hotline as soon as possible on 03457 145 145. We’re open 24 hours a day, every day of the year and calls are free from a BT landline.


We’ll ask you:


  • what you saw - can you describe it, how big is it and is it flowing
  • when did you notice it
  • where is it - is it near a landmark
  • is it near or in a watercourse
  • what are the weather conditions?

We will:


  • take immediate action
  • inform the Environment Agency of a potential environmental impact.

If we’re responsible, we’ll:


  • stop the discharge as soon as we can
  • clean up any affected watercourse area or land
  • investigate the cause to prevent it happening again.

Between 2015 and 2020 we’re investing millions to reduce sewage pollution caused by our assets. Find out more here.