Water firms pay for spills from blocked sewers

9th November 2012


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  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water

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Anglian Water and Thames Water have been forced to pay out more than £40,000 each, after blockages in poorly maintained foul sewers caused sewage to overflow into nearby watercourses

Magistrates in Chelmsford fined Anglian Water £36,000 and ordered the company to pay £6,000 in costs, after hearing that pollution caused by a blocked sewer near Thaxted in Essex spread for 3km of the River Chelmer and killed more than 400 fish.

The Environment Agency said the pollution could have been prevented if Anglian Water had included the sewer in its regular maintenance schedule. The incident in June 2011 occurred just a week after the sewer had been cleared of a similar blockage.

In a separate prosecution, Thames Water was ordered to pay £13,000 in penalties, on top of the £30,000 it had already spent on remediation efforts, after Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard that the firm’s failure to properly investigate the cause of a sewage leak in September 2010, resulted in a more serious discharge six months later.

According to the agency, a blocked foul sewer was to blame on both occasions for sewage overflowing into a Hampshire pond.

In March 2011, however, the water level of the pond was higher than previously, enabling the pollution to flow into the Bishopswood Stream, causing a “dramatic deterioration” in water quality and harming local invertebrate species.

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