Anglian Water Fined For Polluting Ditches With Raw Sewage
PUBLISHED: 19:05 23 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 May 2010
ANGLIAN Water has been hit with £11,000-worth of fines for polluting ditches in Wilburton and Sutton with raw sewage. The company, which has a near monopoly on water treatment in the East of England, admitted allowing sewage to enter drainage ditches at
ANGLIAN Water has been hit with £11,000-worth of fines for polluting ditches in Wilburton and Sutton with raw sewage.
The company, which has a near monopoly on water treatment in the East of England, admitted allowing sewage to enter drainage ditches at The Row in Sutton and a tributary of the Grunty Fen drain in Wilburton in April.
In Sutton, a farmer tipped off the drainage board that the ditch bordering his land contained foul smelling sewage and visible debris, including condoms and sanitary ware, and when Environment Agency staff visited, the sewage was so thick that their officer struggled to get liquid samples into testing bottles.
Anglia Water told Ely Magistrates Court on Tuesday that it had a state-of-the-art radio alarm system, but it had broken down - which normally would have alerted the Lawn Lane sewage works of a blockage in their system.
The company blamed heavy rain or "overspill" - when too many households are pumping sewage into the system, and admitted they could not be sure how long the system had been malfunctioning.
In the second incident, at Wilburton - EDF electricity told the company their supply would be switched off on April 26, giving them 10 days notice to obtain a backup generator - but the request got lost in their system, sending raw untreated sewage direct into the Hundred Foot Drain.
Anglia Water's latest admissions of guilt and raft of apologies will be added to more than 90 previous convictions for similar offences, where drains have become blocked.
Arabella Protheroe, defending Anglian Water, said the company was under pressure from the water industry regulator OFWAT to keep customers' water charges low, so maintenance has to be strictly prioritised.
"The company would doubtless like to invest more in maintenance and upgrades, but the regulation of charges and intervention from OFWAT affects that," she told the court.
The company, which recorded a profit of £331.9million last year, will have to pay legal costs and fines of 16,350.