Ofwat publishes draft determinations

The regulator for England and Wales reviews water companies' five-year investment plans

Today, Ofwat, the water companies financial regulator, has signed off on us all swimming and surfing in sewage pollution beyond 2030.

The announcement will come as a major disappointment to the thousands of people who paddled out in fury at the state of our waterways and the 7,000 people who wrote to the Ofwat chair to call on them to ensure water company plans for the next 5 years deliver an end to sewage pollution affecting their favourite spots.

Whilst the announcement is a small step in the right direction towards ending sewage, the scale of ambition does not even get close to what is being demanded by the public or the new Government. Ofwat have championed that water company plans will cut discharges from storm overflows by 44% by 2030. But, this will still allow discharges to occur a massive 200,000 times a year. What really takes this piss is that Ofwat had already told companies to reduce spills by 21% by next year anyway. So when you break it down between 2025-2030 they are only requiring a 23% reduction.

This is simply not good enough. 

If the election race showed us anything, it’s that the public are fed up with the constant sewage dumping and the regulators doing next to nothing.

Ofwat had a chance today to ensure that Water Companies put the health of water users and the environment. But the announcement was just another disappointment from a failing regulator.

Today’s decision therefore should make it clear for all to see. Under these plans, we will still be surfing in sewage way past 2030. Our system is not working.

The new Secretary of State for Environment has been clear that his top priority is to clean up our rivers, lakes and seas. But its clear today that continuing to tinker with a broken system simply won’t work. So when Steve Reed meets with Water Company CEO’s later today we would urge him to put them on notice that a new government will be launching a public inquiry to deliver transformational reform of the water system and set the country on a trajectory to end sewage pollution.

It’s time for change.