There are nine wastewater companies in England that are responsible for the majority of the country’s wastewater and sewage. These are all private companies owned by shareholders. They are all regulated by the Environment Agency (the environmental regulator) and Ofwat (the financial regulator).
Water policy in England has been changing rapidly over the last few years as a result of dedicated campaigning. The bulk of the policy is contained within the UK government’s ‘Plan for Water’ and ‘Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan’ which set out the actions government, regulators and industry will take to tackle sewage pollution.
In last year’s Water Quality Report, we revealed a staggering £965 billion was paid out of water companies in dividends and £16.5 million was handed over to water company CEOs for a “good job well done” in 2021 despite failing environmentally and letting down their customers.
Despite Ofwat creating new regulations to prevent dividends being paid on poor environmental performance, another £1.4 billion has been funnelled out of England’s water companies this year.
Ultimately, the privatised English sewage system is being rinsed for cash. Money is ending up in the hands of companies based across the world from Germany and Canada to Malaysia and Australia. And from the gross and negligent under-investment of sewage infrastructure since privatisation, it’s clear that these overseas companies certainly don’t have the UK public and environment at heart.